Nuke’em: Russia’s Plan to Nix Meteor Danger

US lawmakers are having a hearing on how to deal with the threat of asteroids, which polished off the dinosaurs and could polish off us.

The US is now namby pamby, lacking a manned space program and clueless.

Contrast with Russia: Aljazeera English reports on a Russian hearing on dealing with the real threat of a meteor strike on earth that could do untold damage. Their scientists suggested new, space-based telescopes to scan space for meteors with orbits that might threaten earth, and one pointed out that hitting a small rock in the sky would best be accomplished by a fairly big nuclear bomb.

US scientists are skeptical about the nuclear approach.

13 Responses

  1. Beyond simply averting humanity’s extinction from hypersonic kinetic impact, maybe this and other similar efforts could be a large Keynesian expansion ala Paul Krugman’s calls to declare war on the moon.

    At the very least, we could actually increase America’s security (or perception of it) in a way that doesn’t involve hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis. Rather, we’d just need about as much money from the OIF reconstruction fund and Bruce Willis.

    Presto! A booming economy and a kickass space program.

  2. Oh Lord, no. The last people I’d trust on this are the Russians. Nuclear bombs? Despite their early successes in space, they have an uneven track record when it comes to technical achievements.

  3. If a large rock were headed our way, hitting it with a nuclear bomb or high explosive would break it into pieces, most of which would still hit us. Better to land a rocket on it and use the rocket’s thrust to change its path so it misses us.

    It would even be possible to toss chunks of the rock itself into space to use as thrust.

    On the other hand, hitting it with an atomic bomb sounds macho; this would appeal to guys like Putin.

  4. The US is neither lacking a manned space program, nor clueless when it comes to near-earth objects.

    The budget for detecting NEOs, while still relatively small, has tripled under the Obama Administration; the US detection program is more comprehensive so far than all other countries, combined; though as pointed out at today’s hearing, it is still not enough to detect city-destroyer class asteroids in a timely fashion, it IS detecting the big, civilization-killing rocks. In addition, the Congress required the Obama Administration three years ago to designate a single agency to be responsible for actually doing something should an ‘incoming’ be detected in time; to date, the Administration has simply ignored the Congressional direction. Russia is in the same boat; they haven’t picked someone in charge, either.

    As for human spaceflight, there are more companies in the US working on more human spacecraft than at any time in history. Not only does NASA have its own internal program going to develop a crewed exploration vehicle and carrier rocket, but NASA is working with several partners in private industry, each of which is putting up some of their own capital as well as NASA’s, to create a multi-competitor commercial human space transportation capability.

    And that doesn’t even include the continuous presence of the International Space Station, which has entered into its second decade of continuous habitation and space experimentation.

    All the above is seconds away via google; one need but try to research before one opines.

    Dave Huntsman

    • You really think this is a refutation of what I wrote? The US does not have a current manned spaceflight program, and has to catch a ride to the space station. The budget for deflecting meteors is $20 million a year, which isn’t worth mentioning.

  5. The US does not have a current manned spaceflight program,

    Which is relevant to practical efforts to avert collisions exactly how?

    A practical effort to divert a possible collision would not be a crewed mission. A pusher or other practical tool sent to a target would be guided and controlled by the same excellent remote capabilities that the U.S has demonstrated in many missions – the ongoing Cassini, Curiosity and even Voyager probes for example.

    The U.S lack of interest in funding and inability to manage what has been funded for crewed flight does incur a loss of status and embarrassment but the only part of that which might be taken to speak to an inability to contribute to a threat averting mission is the dysfunctional high level decision making of the U.S

    Not it’s engineers and technicians, who could be expected to rise to the challenge respectably in an emergency that prompts politicians to stop screwing around.

    That Russian scientists are full of ideas on how to act is no surprise. So are U.S scientists. Your commentary says nothing meaningful about who would be best able to deliver the tools on demand.

    • Yes it does. The Russians could get up there if they needed to. You don’t know that a crewed mission is irrelevant.

      I am very disappointed at how Congress has stiffed NASA and don’t know why you want to defend our country falling down on the job. The private sector isn’t going to take up the slack here any more than it will in social welfare for the poor.

      • Focus on strict reality. This does not matter. The ecosphere for this mudball is going to be destroyed. No if, ands, buts or doubts about it.

        Climate change died 20 years ago. We are moving into climate catastrophe. If any of the human race is to survive, we have to move into a 99.9999 percent dead philosophy. The entire civilizations of the world will collapse.

        The “eastern spring” was the direct result of the price of simple food doubling in the middle east. Nothing else.

        The hellstorms will happen. 3/4 of what is planted will not reach maturity in less than ten years. We would have to plant 10 times as much today to even keep up with the loss of a stable climate.

        The anchor of the northern hemispheres weather, the Arctic area, has already been totally destroyed.

        The poisoning of the land, water and air is going to result in a total destruction of humanity. The wars for food will kill billions. The failed crops will kill billions more.

        The chance of an asteroid hitting the earth is inconsequential in the saving of some remnants of human society.

        The survivors will be in the underground cities built in the 50s to save the rich and powerful.

        They have no idea of how badly their genes have been corrupted by the indiscriminate use of chemicals. There are studies showing that the umbilical cords of newborns have hundreds of separate industrial chemicals. There has been no assessment of 80 percent of industrial chemicals effects on the body, much less how those chemicals interact in a single newborn.

        Asteroids are not a freaking problem.

        Deal with reality. The human race is DEAD if we do not cooperate and agree to preserve the cleanest genes.

        Like it or not, the cleanest genes are those of the Bushmen in Namibia, the highlanders in New Guinea and the “wild” tribe in western Australia.

      • The requirements for currently constituted crewed missions are unrelated and often opposed to those which would be needed for any practical mission to intercept and divert a possible Earth bound target.

        A nations experience in remotely controlled and autonomously capable probes operating at a far remove from Earth is much more relevant than an ability to transport people to near orbit.

        And in this the U.S is vastly more capable and successful than Russians have ever been.

        It is a mistake to consider the U.S’s current embarrassment over lack of crew rated launch vehicles relevant to a possible need to send one or more quickly built, fast travelling, remotely operated tools to intercept and affect a distant target.

        It would be exactly the sort of misjudged mistake one can often criticise the U.S government of making to waste resources aimed at this problem on the exponentially more expensive manufacturing of crew rated capabilities rather than the more relevant engineering problems of locating, reaching and affecting a relevant threat.

      • When competing for fund and scientific knowledge gained per every science dollar and in the age of drones a crewed mission (especially beyond low earth orbit) is indeed irrelevant, I am sure expensive telescopes and cheap beacons landed on the rocks will do more to protect earth and in case one is confirmed headed our way, then why only use one bomb a barrage of 200 wouldn’t even dent the stockpiles and you could put it on cable and recoup some of your investment as people pay to see stuff blowup.

      • Please understand that the Russian Soyuz technology is only capable of delivering humans to low earth orbit. They establish a proper orbit to reach the space station by carefully syncing their launches with the space station properly positioned in its orbit. There isn’t much fuel on board for a major orbit adjustment let alone establishing any other far reaching orbit. Soyuz cannot escape low earth orbit. No manned craft has been able to do that since Apollo in the 70s and Apollo could only reach the moon.

        Reaching a rapidly approaching meteor with a manned spacecraft is extremely difficult requiring huge amounts of fuel and a massive launch vehicle. Apollo couldn’t do it. This capability will be beyond possibility for years if ever. Robotic craft weigh a fraction of what a manned capsule weighs and do not have to return back to earth.

        And so defending ourselves against an asteroid can only be done with remotely controlled unmanned vehicles.

        I also agree that worrying about meteors at this time when a massive climate crisis is upon us is foolish unless mankind is indeed already doing everything possible to defend against climate change, which it isn’t. Instead, the current tactic seems to be ignore and enjoy life while it is still good.

        danh

  6. Manned spaceflight is a pointless waste of money, and exists mainly to make the sort of people who use terms like “namby-pamby” feel like big tough guys.

Comments are closed.