U of A to lead asteroid mission

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The U of A will lead an $800 million mission to an asteroid.

The NASA contract reportedly could pump about $200 million into the state and Tucson economies.

The mission could cost up to $1 billion and last a decade.

"We needed an organic rich astroid because the big picture science questions that we ultimately want to address are fundamentally what is our origin and what is our destiny," said Michael Drake from the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab.

The rocket carrying the U of A developed spacecraft is scheduled to launch in 2016 and return with samples of the asteroid in 2023.