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Russia may join asteroid retrieval mission

MOSCOW, April 4 (UPI) — Russia says its Roscosmos space agency may join NASA in an ambitious mission to capture an asteroid and bring it to a lunar orbit for exploration.

The asteroid-retrieval proposal — to capture a 25-foot, 500-ton asteroid in a net and tow it to an orbit around the moon — was first proposed last year by the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

“[It is] a very interesting project, which NASA proposes to carry out jointly with Roscosmos specialists,” Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin said.

“We could send a manned expedition to explore the asteroid or study it with probes,” he said.

NASA reportedly is set to ask Congress for $100 million in its next budget request to initiate the project that could be in place by 2025, RIA Novosti reported.

Keck researchers said they estimated the entire cost of such a retrieval mission could reach $2.65 billion.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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