"Aside from advancing our understanding of the nature of these mysterious objects and how we might protect our planet from them, this initiative will provide valuable experience in future mission planning and operations," Bolden said in Vienna Wednesday, a day after addressing the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
Presenting NASA's plan, Bolden noted President Barack Obama has set a goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars by the 2030s, a U.N. release said.
"We are on track for fulfilling those goals and are making progress in developing the launch vehicle and spacecraft needed to carry astronauts to the deep space destinations of an asteroid and Mars," he said.
Mazlan Othman, Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, applauded NASA's commitment to the asteroid initiative.
"We need initiatives such as these to continue capture the imagination of everyone and inspire us to make space work for the benefit of humankind," she said following Bolden's remarks.