As part of the Obama initiatives to extend space exploration into deep space, NASA will be sending an unmanned spacecraft to an asteroid near Earth, finally bringing Asteroids into the real world. But this mission will be more about research and less about blasting space rocks:
Actually, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft won’t exactly be capable of blowing up the small, rocky leftovers from the solar system’s birth-let alone possess an energy shield or the ability to jump into hyperspace.
But the vessel will be equipped with a robotic arm built to pluck samples from a near-Earth asteroid designated 1999 RQ36 when it reaches its destination in 2020. NASA announced its first-ever mission to retrieve asteroid samples and bring them back to Earth on Thursday.