NASA has unveiled new plans to land astronauts on a near-Earth asteroid by the year 2025.
According to a report from the Associated Press, NASA plans to embark on its most ambitious mission to date, launching a team of astronauts into deeps space past Earth's influence.
The mission will reportedly be carried out using two-to-three separate launches, at least one of which will use parts assembled in space. The rockets for the mission are reportedly already in development.
The trip to the asteroid will take an estimated 6 months. For the mission NASA will reportedly be combining the Orion Crew capsule with a new habitat. The new ship is also planned to house its own mini-ship, designed to let the astronauts explore the asteroid up close.
The main ship itself will not be able to land on the asteroid due to its lack of gravity. But according to NASA with the new mini-ship, the missions crew will be able to "spacewalk" on it, thus allowing them to collect key data before returning to the main mothership.
This will reportedly be done using a form of tether line connected to the mini-ship that will allow the cosmonauts to descend onto the asteroid without the need for a direct landing by the ship.
A collection of videos showing artistic impressions of the planned mission can be found here.