NASA's asteroid mission scrapped under Trump's budget

By Greg Pallone, Brevard County Reporter

NASA's first-of-its-kind mission to redirect an asteroid will not continue after President Donald Trump's budget called for it to be grounded.

Video of the space agency's Asteroid Redirect Mission looks like it was borrowed from a sci-fi movie.

Last year, the space agency touted the goal of visiting one of more than 1,000 near-Earth asteroids, as well as work toward shifting one away from a possible devastating Earth collision.

"This is a hazard that, 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs succumbed to," Dr. John Holdren, a former White House senior adviser, said in 2016. "We have to be smarter than the dinosaurs."

Scientists had planned to launch the robotic spacecraft by the end of this decade. The mission, which would take several years, was set to visit an asteroid, collect a larger boulder from the surface and redirect the rock to a stable orbit around the moon.

Astronauts flying on NASA's new Orion spacecraft would launch from the Kennedy Space Center on board the new heavy lift rocket currently in development.

They would then visit the boulder, take samples and return them to Earth for investigation.

With a new presidential administration in place, the mission is being canceled.

NASA spokesman Allard Beutel issued this statement:

"We remain committed to the next human missions to deep space, but we will not pursue the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) with the Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal. However, we will continue to work on the needed technologies, such as solar electric propulsion, which will advance future in-space transportation needs."

"It's not surprising," said Dale Ketcham, of Space Florida. "The program wasn't wildly popular in Congress, and it was President (Barack) Obama's signature space mission."

So, what will Trump's signature space mission be?

The president approved a $19 billion NASA budget in May. NASA officials hoped the asteroid mission would speed up people heading to Mars in the 2030s.

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