NASA tests the waters for the first manned mission to an asteroid

Written by CNN Staff As a young NASA engineer, Louis Friedman wondered if the agency could send men to the moon. After decades of futility, he helped prove him wrong when the first crew…

NASA tests the waters for the first manned mission to an asteroid

Written by CNN Staff

As a young NASA engineer, Louis Friedman wondered if the agency could send men to the moon. After decades of futility, he helped prove him wrong when the first crew launched in the late 1960s.

But in the 40 years since then, NASA hasn’t made any significant trips beyond our planet.

So, the agency has once again turned to its first major moon mission in 50 years. But this time, the moon won’t be their next destination.

In May, President Donald Trump signed a budget bill containing $19.6 billion for NASA’s fiscal year 2019. It included a three-year, $19.5 billion plan to send humans beyond Earth’s orbit for the first time since the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

According to a budget analysis by the U.S. House of Representatives’ committee on science, space and technology, these plans call for the first journey to be launched in late 2019 to an asteroid and eventually on to Mars.

Crowdfunding funds

Such a mission is first and foremost a return to our solar system, as it is the perfect gateway to Mars. It’s not an easy journey, though, which is why officials are throwing open the gates to public funding for the mission.

On Friday, NASA launched its first ever Indiegogo campaign , called “Galactic Dreams.”

Viewers can give the project their support by pledging $50 or more to help fund the first missions on the International Space Station, a privately operated project known as the Commercial Crew Program and other important projects.

“Through this campaign, we’ve come up with the most innovative and crowd-sourced launch ever,” Director of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement. “If successful, these initial missions will lead to much bigger things.”

He said the privately funded, and not government funded, missions will show us the way to a future out beyond Earth’s orbit.

NASA’s announced the campaign after candidates from 123 countries competed in a global lottery to make up the team.

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