NASA has a new budget and a new mission. It's 17.7 billion, 1% down from last year and on par with the 2012 budget. NASA will also send a mission to an asteroid.
Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier explains the mission profile.
"The mission to find, capture and redirect an asteroid robotically, and then visit it with astronauts to study it and return samples takes advantage of expertise across all of NASA in an integrated approach to exploration. Along with the scientific research and technology demonstrations happening around the clock on the International Space Station that are teaching us how humans can live and work in space, this mission will give us valuable experience we need in deep space operations to send humans to more distant destinations in the solar system, including Mars. Through the balance of this fiscal year, we will work to define an affordable mission architecture. In Fiscal Year 2014, NASA will begin developing and testing prototype capture mechanisms and concepts for crew interactions with the asteroid."
NASA Chief Charles Bolden also outlined another purpose, and it's straight out of a Hollywood Sci-fi thriller.
"This mission represents and unprecedented technological feat that will lead to new technological capabilities and help protect the home planet."
Yes, planetary defense. Asteroids can become meteorites.