eldavojohn writes "NASA has proposed a manned asteroid mission to a near earth object. They mention this being viewed as a "gap-filler" to keep the public's attention between a lunar exploration & manned mars mission. The article also cites these goals as in line with the Constellation Program. From the article, 'Furthermore, a human venture to a space rock may well accelerate precursor robotic surveys of asteroids, Schweickart observed. "Early unmanned visits to asteroids ... it's the same pattern as we did with the Moon and we're doing right now with Mars. It's all pretty logical," he told SPACE.com.'"