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NASA Seeks Private-Sector Posse to Hunt Asteroids

Bruce Willis in the 1998 asteroid film “Armageddon”
Bruce Willis in the 1998 asteroid film “Armageddon”Photograph by Everett Collection

Forget sentient glasses and self-driving cars, “asteroid transportation” may be the hottest thing in engineering.

NASA summoned captains of industry to Washington this morning to pitch its plan to harness earthbound asteroids with spacecraft. The briefing, along with a request for information from potential private-sector partners, is part of the government’s “enhanced focus on planetary defense.” In other words, the government needs help saving the world. NASA hopes to be able to snare a small asteroid by 2025. In addition to an Armageddon-style rendezvous, the agency aims to double its capacity to spot potentially hazardous objects zipping through space, or in NASA terminology: “near-earth objects.”