Russian Asteroid Plan: Cold War Missiles To Be Turned Into Planetary Defense System

The Cold War between Russia and America led to huge advances in weapons technology. Now the same equipment which terrified the world is going to be used to potentially save us all, after scientists announced a Russian asteroid plan which would use missiles from the Cold War to destroy objects which came to close to Earth’s orbit.

Washington CNN reported that Sabit Saitgarayev, head of the Russian Rocket Design Bureau, announced that they were planning to modify nuclear missiles to be fired at and destroy any approaching asteroids in the 20-meter to 50-meter size range. These asteroids are extremely difficult to detect and astrologers believe that we are only currently aware of less than 1 changed % to percent of the asteroids in this range which are currently active in our solar system.

Russian scientists are planning on testing the capabilities on the Aphosis 99942 asteroid, which is expected to travel near to Earth’s orbit in 2036. The system is being designed to deal with the smaller asteroids which are often only detected a few hours before they fly past Earth. Because of this, the rockets which are currently used to travel into space are unsuitable; they take several weeks to prepare for launch. Researchers said the following.

“Most rockets work on boiling fuel. Their fueling begins 10 days before the launch and therefore, they are unfit for destroying meteorites similar to Chelyabinsk meteorite in diameter, which are detected several hours becoming close to the Earth.”

Traditional Space Rocket
The military grade intercontinental rockets are designed to be fired instantly in case of a threat being detected and the Russian plan would provide a new level of protection against the potentially catastrophic effects of an asteroid hitting the earth.

The research has become particularly urgent for Russia following on from the impact of the Chelyabinsk asteroid which Science World Report says exploded in the atmosphere 20 kilometers above Russia in a blast that released 500 kilotons of energy. To put that into perspective, the blast was 30 times more powerful than the bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima to effectively end World War II. The shockwave from the Chelyabinsk asteroid caused damage in a radius of over 70 miles and injured almost 1500 people.

The Russian scientists behind the asteroid plan are concerned that Aphosis 99942 will have a similar impact in the atmosphere, although NASA scientists believe there is no risk of the Aphosis asteroid travelling that close to Earth. Regardless of how close it is expected to pass Earth Russia see it as a perfect opportunity to test a defense system which may prove invaluable in the future.

The Russian asteroid plan is taking a significantly different path to that of the Americans. NASA are currently researching methods to deflect asteroids onto a new orbital path which take them further away from the Earth’s orbit. They believe this will allow them to deal with bigger threats than the Russian plan (the asteroid which is believed to have caused the Dinosaurs extinction is estimated to be over 1 kilometer across) and also remove the threat of large segments of a destroyed asteroid falling into the Earth’s atmosphere.

While the plan to recondition nuclear warheads currently designed to be fired intercontinentally across the globe into missiles that operate outside our atmosphere may seem to be beneficial to all the Pentagon have been quick to raise concerns. Already concerned about Russia’s military activities the U.S. military are concerned that the new asteroid defense system will give Russia the capability to target satellites in addition to asteroids, thereby giving them the capability to eradicate most of the worlds communication and navigation systems in the event of hostilities.

Pentagon Concerned by Russian Plan
U.S. misgivings are unlikely to have a significant effect on the plans of Putin in the future and it seems highly likely that the Russian asteroid plan will go ahead, hopefully leaving us all a little safer from the perils of the solar system.

[Photo by Stringer/Getty Images]