Last week, it was announced that $78 million has officially been set aside
in the fiscal year 2014 budget for NASA to start development on an asteroid capture plan in which a spacecraft will rendezvous with a "small asteroid".
The program, titled the Asteroid Retrieval and Utilization Mission, sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie.
This illustration from NASA shows what capturing an asteroid might look like. During the first phases of the project, NASA will enhance detection and characterization capabilities, accelerate the building of solar electric propulsion technologies, and begin design and development of the mission.
After capturing the asteroid, the plan is to then move it into a stable orbit near the moon where astronauts can then set foot on the rock to scoop up samples for study back on Earth.