Transterrestrial Musings

Defend Free Speech!

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay

Site designed by

Powered by
Movable Type 4.0
Biting Commentary about Infinity, and Beyond!

« Today, The WK2 Rollout | Main | The Arabization Of Macedonia »


I agree that nukes aren't necessarily the best way to deal with asteroids, but the notion that NASA is promoting them in order to justify nuclear weapons in space is more than a little nutty.


0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Paranoia.

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Eric Weder wrote:

Did Schweickart actually say that, or was it the author of the article (Rowe) putting words in his mouth? There do seem to be quite a few astronauts that are still "out there", so to speak.

Tinfoil hat time again ...

Frank Glover wrote:

I suggest finding out:

Take one asteroid known to pose no threat to Earth, and see how effectively a nuke (or other means) can predictably deflect it onto a different path that also poses no threat to Earth.

Not that I expect for one instant that it'll actually be done. In addition to nuclear paranoia and Test Ban Treaty issues (which is what mostly killed the nuclear-puilse Orion), too many people will see the Universe in binary terms. Instead of the infinity of possible utterly harmless orbits, someone is *sure* to say something like: "If the asteroid is harmless now, then anything you do *will* make it a threat!!"

In their quasi-Aristoteleian view, everything out there is just waiting for the chance to roll downhill to Earth and nowhere else, if we so much as sneeze on it....

K wrote:

What's missing in this is article is context. Was the asteroid (or comet) unseen until it was too late to take half measures? What if NASA decides to build the tow vehicle and it ends up 2 years late with a $500 trillion overrun?

philw1776 wrote:

Astronaut Rusty S is basicly a flower child. Big on Gaia, ecology and no nukes. Astronauts are people. Not all are "Right Stuff" terse, 60s style military pilot icons.

Martin wrote:

I can't imagine a better way of deflecting an impactor than a nuclear weapon, or indeed, several. I remember once hearing Carl Sagan say that nuclear weapons would not be the most efficient way of doing so.


A medivac chopper may not be the most efficient way of getting your bleeding body from the site of a car accident to the hospital. I'm sure a Prius would consume far less energy. And I'm that would make up for the fact that you might arrive at the ER dead.

When the goal is stopping a big chunk of ice or rock from slamming into the Earth, the relevant criteria for success is not efficiency, nor is it being environmentally friendly or preventing the militarization of space. The criteria for success is..........success.

Moving an asteroid or comet takes power. Jet power. And lots of it. And there is nothing like a nuclear weapon for delivering power on target.

Some have raised the possibility that instead of deflecting it, you may just blow it into fragments (if it's mushy enough). So? Sounds good to me. If you catch it far enough out, turning the single, dense clump of ice into an expanding cloud of debris still means that we intercept less of it. And you could always set off another bomb in the middle of the cloud to further disperse it. Nuclear bombs offer margin. Miss the first time, then you can try again. And again. And still again, if necessary. We've got no shortage of weapons (although we might want to use bigger ones than what we currently have in our arsenal).

By the way, I was not aware that Rusty Schweickart is any kind of scientist, let alone a venerable one, as the linked-to article states.

Bruce Lagasse wrote:

"By the way, I was not aware that Rusty Schweickart is any kind of scientist, let alone a venerable one, as the linked-to article states."

By the way, isn't Schweickert from the same generaton of astronauts as Apollo 14 guy Edgar Mitchell, who recently claimed that NASA had covered up for decades evidence of UFOs and space aliens? As soon as I read that "an Apollo astronaut" had made claims about aliens, etc, I thought immediately of Mitchell. I recalled that years ago, he had become notorious for trying to send ESP-type messages from the moon to some PSI think tank involved with all types of psychic phenomena. Sounds like birds of a feather.

Ryan Olcott wrote:

Due to outstanding work in diplomacy, we have eminently useful agreements with no longer existing nations that we still refuse to throw in the trash, like the START II treaty, which expressly forbids putting nuclear warheads in space.

I'm guessing any attempt the US tries to make to defend all known life from an imminent meteor holocaust using the best tools we have available will be held up in bureaucracy, at least past the point where it would have saved lives.

Andy wrote:

Eric, no, Schweickart didn't go so far as to make that accusation, that was editorializing; at least, that's what he says.

And yes, Schweickart is a scientist, by training if not by trade.

Martin wrote:

" Andy wrote:

And yes, Schweickart is a scientist, by training if not by trade."

According to Wikipedia, Schweickart has a masters degree in aeronautical engineering from MIT. Very impressive, I'll agree, but that doesn't make him a scientist. He also has lectured at the Esalen institute, which really doesn't make him one.

Josh Reiter wrote:

I tend to think from the other end on this issue. I say, go out and snag an asteroid. Learn how to move it around not so that we may deflect it but to instead move it closer. Park an asteroid in a stable orbit close to home. Then it would be a lot easier to use its resources and make it a base for exploration purposes. As a side effect, one also gain the knowledge of how to move errant asteroids in our path. If anything, one would want to go after the ones that cross our path since it would potentially require less energy to capture.

ken anthony wrote:

Park a good size asteroid in Earth orbit and watch how fast 'the universe belongs to mankind' crap gets blown out the door.

Leave a comment

Note: The comment system is functional, but timing out when returning a response page. If you have submitted a comment, DON'T RESUBMIT IT IF/WHEN IT HANGS UP AND GIVES YOU A "500" PAGE. Simply click your browser "Back" button to the post page, and then refresh to see your comment.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on July 28, 2008 10:58 AM.

Today, The WK2 Rollout was the previous entry in this blog.

The Arabization Of Macedonia is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.1