Asteroid Hunters: Ex-NASA brain trust wants to launch private telescope

By Jim Donahue

 In a statement earlier today, a team of ex-NASA astronauts and scientists from the non-profit organization the B612 Foundation announced an audacious plan to put a telescope into space that would monitor asteroids and other near-earth objects that have the potential for collision with the Earth.

The aptly-named “Sentinel Space Telescope” would search the heavens and monitor the orbits of near-Earth asteroids that currently roam our inner solar system, which is populated by a half million asteroids, the majority of which are uncharted.

The B612 Foundation believes that humanity can harness the power of science and technology to protect the future of civilization on this planet while extending our reach into the solar system. Mapping the great unknown of the inner solar system is the first step to opening up this next frontier.

These asteroids are also a threat in that they can pose great risk to humanity here on Earth. Taking advantage of these opportunities and dealing with these threats require not only knowing where each of these individual asteroids is now but also projecting where they will be in the future. The B612 Foundation will create the first comprehensive, dynamic map of our inner solar system that will show the current and future locations and trajectories of these Earth crossing asteroids.

“We know these objects are out there, and we can do something to prevent them” from hitting Earth, said former Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, who helped establish the foundation a decade ago.

In a statement, Dr. Scott Hubbard, B612 Foundation Program Architect, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and former Director, NASA Ames Research Center said, “The B612 Sentinel mission extends the emerging commercial spaceflight industry into deep space – a first that will pave the way for many other ventures. Mapping the presence of 1000′s of near earth objects will create a new scientific database and greatly enhance our stewardship of the planet.”

Ed Lu, B612 Foundation Chairman & CEO, Space Shuttle, Soyuz, and Space Station Astronaut added,
“We’ve been given a gift, and the gift is that we have the ability now to go out there and actually do something which positively affects the future of humanity on Earth.”

It would appear on face value that some very, very intelligent people are fearful of this possible occurrence and have put forth a detailed and ambitious proposal towards that end.

The cost of this project is said to be at least half a billion dollars and NASA has already shelved a similar proposed telescope project because of costs. The organization has started fundraising efforts and is seeking donations to offset the costs of the telescope.

There is a lot more information to come, so stay tuned for more.

You can read my latest article about near-earth objects here: Doomsday 2012: UFOs, Planet X and Other Heavenly Bodies.

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