The planned manned asteroid mission is heavily viewed as a “Plymouth Rock” opportunity to set foot on Mars or another celestial body beyond our moon. NASA believes it will be a chance to gain a wealth of intelligence and data about the possibility of going even deeper into space.
Others view it as a mission for planetary defense as we contend with the possibility of a “killer asteroid” impacting our earth at some point in the future. With so many cosmic bodies floating around in space, the possibility of a close encounter is always factored into any equation of planetary defense.
A manned asteroid mission is tentative at best, and could launch by 2025. This “dress-rehearsal” would be a lead-in to the so called “Plymouth Rock” plans to step foot on Mars by the mid to late 2030’s.