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    18 June 2013

    The Next Steps in Space Exploration: NASA Asteroid Initiative

    VIENNA, 18 June (UN Information Service) -  Charles Bolden,Administrator of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for the first time addressed the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) at Vienna and informed delegates about a new asteroid initiative that NASA is developing together with international partners.

    NASA envisages the first-ever human mission to an asteroid. The asteroid initiative comprises two distinct yet related activities: the mission to redirect an asteroid to an orbit closer to Earth so humans can travel to it, and an effort to improve the detection, characterization, and mitigation planning for potentially hazardous asteroids. NASA will pursue these two complementary activities simultaneously.

    At a press conference today, Bolden said: "We have begun work on an asteroid initiative that will engage the expertise of every part of our Agency as well as America's scientific, academic, aerospace, and manufacturing industries in a collaborative effort that will benefit all humankind. We envision an important role in this initiative for international participation as well. The centrepiece of our asteroid initiative is the first ever-attempt to identify, capture and redirect an asteroid. Aside from advancing our understanding of the nature of these mysterious objects and how we might protect our planet from them, this initiative will provide valuable experience in future mission planning and operations. These missions will include, but not be limited to, future crewed deep-space missions, including our planned visit to Mars".

    Charles Bolden has been the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) since 2009. After joining the office in 1980, he travelled to orbit four times aboard a space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew.

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