I love it when science fiction taps us on the shoulder, excuses itself as it slips past us, and proceeds to make itself into gosh-darn science reality.
Reports are being published that one of the very realistic action plans NASA will consider soon is to send a ship up to lasso an asteroid, stabilize it, then bring it back to an orbit around the Moon. There it can be used as an experimental base and as a way station for future Mars missions.
I particularly agree with one point that was made. Just flying out to an asteroid and touching it to “say we’d done so” is OK, but not nearly as compelling as this practical mission. This has real meat to it – real adventure and actual practical value. It is not just abstract basic research.
In other words, it could be a PR prize. I hope NASA considers this program strongly. Let’s go capture one of those darn rocks and bring it back into our zone of control. It would be the very first time a celestial object was moved by humans. We can test it for mineral mining, use it as a base, study it for how to manipulate one of its rambunctious cousins into not hitting Earth, and maybe just inspire the world to take the next steps into a broader and safer future for us all.