FudRucker points out a story from The Guardian about NASA's plans to visit 2000SG344, an asteroid 40 meters wide and weighing roughly 71 million kilograms. The manned mission would take three to six months, and it would make use of the Orion spacecraft, which will be replacing to retiring space shuttle fleet. "A report seen by the Guardian notes that by sending astronauts on a three-month journey to the hurtling asteroid, scientists believe they would learn more about the psychological effects of long-term missions and the risks of working in deep space, and it would allow astronauts to test kits to convert subsurface ice into drinking water, breathable oxygen and even hydrogen to top up rocket fuel. All of which would be invaluable before embarking on a two-year expedition to Mars. As well as giving space officials a taste of more complex missions, samples taken from the rock could help scientists understand more about the birth of the solar system and how best to defend against asteroids that veer into Earth's path."
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