August 23, 2013, A new video animation depicting a mission to study a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) has been posted online by NASA. It shows an Orion spacecraft with two crew members on board taking off from Earth using the Space Launch System heavy rocket, doing a slingshot maneuver around the Moon and rendezvousing and docking with a robotic asteroid capture satellite to collect samples for a return to Earth. The trip will take nine days from Earth to the asteroid which will be in a retrograde orbit around Earth beyond the Moon.
NASA plans to use solar-electric propulsion in this mission, an engine similar to the one on board Dawn, the robotic spacecraft that visited Vesta and is now on its way to Ceres in the Asteroid Belt. The propulsion system will establish the NEA in a stable orbit for future visits by astronauts.