By Alan Boyle
NASA's accelerated vision for exploration calls for moving a near-Earth asteroid even nearer to Earth, sending out astronauts to bring back samples within a decade, and then shifting the focus to Mars, a senior Obama administration official told NBC News on Saturday.
The official said the mission would "accomplish the president's challenge of sending humans to visit an asteroid by 2025 in a more cost-effective and potentially quicker time frame than under other scenarios." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no authorization to discuss the plan publicly.
The source said more than $100 million would be sought for the mission and other asteroid-related activities in its budget request for the coming fiscal year, which is due to be sent to Congress on Wednesday. That confirms comments made on Friday by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a one-time spaceflier who is now chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space. It also confirms a report about the mission that appeared last month in Aviation Week. . . .
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