Nuking asteroids Bruce Willis style might be the way to go when it comes to dealing with the pesky menace of these potential extinction-causing space rocks.
One day in the near future, we might fly nuclear warheads to asteroids which approach dangerously close to Earth orbit and — Kapow — there will be one less asteroid for the world to worry about, sort of like the plan that’s hatched in the movie Armagedon (1998), starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, and others.
Don’t take my word for it — take the word of Bong Wie, who is the director of the Asteroid Deflection Center at Iowa State University.
Sure, it might be expensive, about $1 billion give or take; but, think how cool it would be to watch an asteroid explode in High Def on your television sets in real time.
It would be as simple as pie. Well, maybe pi.
According to Bong Wei, who spoke to attendees at the International Space Development Conference in La Jolla, Calif., on May 23, we’d need to have an anti-asteroid spacecraft ready that would be capable of delivering an incoming asteroid before it could destroy the Earth.
The spacecraft ideally would be composed of two sections. One would consist of a “kinetic energy impactor. ” That section would be the lower one, and it would separate before arrival and blast a crater in the asteroid, to create a nice hole for the nuclear warhead carried by the other half in which it would land.
This would be kind of like when miners make a hole in the side of a mountain to insert dynamite into, to get at rich veins of coal, silver, or gold.
The other half of the spacecraft would carry the nuclear weapon. It would then explode inside the crater after the vehicle impacted.
After the offending asteroid is fragged into countless pieces, the residue would then disperse along separate trajectories.
Further good news is that Bong Wei believes up to 99 percent or more of the asteroid pieces could end up missing the Earth. That could prevent or limit the environmental impact of the…impacts from harming the planet. Many of the other asteroid fragments would burn up in our atmosphere as they enter it, and pose little, if any, threat to the Earth.
According to Wie’s study, such a plan could be implemented within a relatively short span of time — like a year or so. There would have to be two rockets ready at a moment’s notice, one the primary rocket, and the other one a standby, just in case there’s a problem with the first one launching.
Wie stated that a nuclear weapon is the only thing that would work against an asteroid on short notice. Space tugboats, gravity tractors, solar sails and mass drivers would necessitate a minimum of 10 or 20 years of advance notice to have them ready for use.
One billion dollars may sound like a lot of money, but isn’t it worth it to possibly prevent mankind from going the way of the dinosaurs?
Written by: Douglas Cobb