NASA Video Makes Asteroid Sample Collection a Hollywood-Like Affair

PHOTO: Astronaut taking samples from asteroid
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The pulsing drums, rumbling brass and minor key that serve as soundtrack to one of NASA's recent videos make it seem as if Michael Bay were directing a sequel to Armageddon. But these animated astronauts aren't going out of Earth's orbit to blow big space rocks to bits. They're collecting samples, which in itself is a time- and labor-intensive procedure.

The video, animated by the Johnson Space Center, annotates just how much time and effort is required to do even the most mundane of space tasks. After the craft Orion is launched into space via heavy-lift rocket, it will make a nine-day journey toward its asteroid target.

Orion first heads towards the moon, but instead of landing there, it swoops around its surface. It takes what little gravity the moon exerts and uses it to slingshot itself closer to the asteroid. Once it gets close enough, the astronauts will begin the docking procedure to the asteroid.

After Orion has docked with the asteroid, the astronauts on board can start a spacewalk and collect a sample. Once they are finished, Orion would go back the way it came, looping around the moon for a second time and heading back towards Earth.

Rachel Kraft, a spokesperson for NASA, said that many aspects of the Asteroid Initiative aren't set in stone. "This recent video shows a more nuanced impression of what the crewed part of the mission will be like," she told ABC News.

A previous video released by NASA showed how an unmanned spacecraft, known as the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle, would wrap an oversized Hefty bag around the asteroid and physically move it to a safe region away from Earth.

NASA held a press conference in June, inviting anyone with ideas for the Asteroid Initiative to submit them to the agency. "We've received over 400 submissions," said Kraft. NASA is still reviewing proposals for asteroid redirection and will discuss several of them at a workshop at the end of September.

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