NASA approved the date of flight to the asteroid to capture it
A 2011 MD asteroid image taken by the Spitzer telescope. This is one of the candidates for interception. In addition to this asteroid, there are 8 other candidates. About a
month and a half ago, NASA published information about its plans for the next 20 years. Among other items, the agency planned a flight to the asteroid to capture it, and launch into a retrograde lunar orbit.
Yesterday, the plan of flight to the asteroid was confirmed, and the year when it is planned to intercept the asteroid with its delivery to the moon was announced. All of this should happen in 2018.
Rather, in 2018, the asteroid will be initially captured by the corresponding spacecraft, and in 2019 this space object (32 meters in diameter, while it is difficult to intercept a larger asteroid) will be transferred to another lunar orbit using another spacecraft. There are two options so far - either intercepting a small whole asteroid, or chipping off a fairly large part of a large asteroid, and further personal work with this part.
Now there is a collection of ideas about the possible course of the expedition, with technical details. For a successful project, NASA offers a reward of 4.9 million US dollars.
Already in 2020, a team of astronauts will fly to this artificial moon moon to study the asteroid. Now the Orion spacecraft is being developed, on which astronauts will arrive at the object of study. According to scientists, a detailed study of the substance of which the asteroid is composed should reveal to us the past of the solar system, including the formation of planets and their satellites.
In addition to this plan, there is another one, which consists in sending an automatic station into space to an asteroid in 2016, automatic sampling, and the arrival of the station to Earth and 2023.
We can only wait and hope that the planned missions will be successful.