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[i]"I hope it goes forward," said Rusty Schweickart, a former Apollo astronaut who help found the B612 Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building and launching a privately funded space telescope to search for threatening asteroids.
"Asteroids are a very, very interesting area," he told CBS News in a telephone interview. "They're a hell of a resource, and I think the potential for long-term resource development for use in space is going to be a very big thing. And this is sort of step one. It's a baby step in a way, but it should be very interesting."
...Louis Friedman, former director of the Planetary Society and a co-author of the original Keck study, said the proposed mission "is quite an exciting idea" that supports President Obama's 2010 call for sending astronauts to an asteroid.
"It turns out, a first mission to an asteroid is still a big step, too big a step, because you'd need a much larger launch vehicle than we're building, you'd need a crew support system that could last for at least nine months in space because of the round-trip time," Friedman said in a telephone interview. "If we have to wait for that, it would be a couple of decades.
"But the nice idea here is we can robotically move the asteroid closer to Earth and do the mission as soon as ... the 2020s, the goal is 2025. By moving the asteroid here, we have a much safer, earlier first step for humans going beyond the moon."[/i]
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