By Jonathan O’callaghan For Mailonline
A Danish NGO is planning to develop Earth-saving spacecraft
Hyper Velocity Asteroid Impact Vehicle (HAIV) will be a ‘rapid’ response
It will blow up asteroids that could endanger Earth using a nuclear device
But this should only be a last resort when other methods have failed
Scientists wanting to develop a spacecraft carrying a nuclear device to blow up asteroids are preparing to seek funding this year.
Called the Hyper Velocity Asteroid Impact Vehicle (HAIV), their system would be able to launch and reach an Earth-bound asteroid within 100 days or so, destroying it before it reached our planet.
But the unmanned spacecraft relies on one crucial aspect – tracking and finding an asteroid, before it is too late to stop it impacting Earth.
The concept was created by the Emergency Asteroid Defence Project (EADP), based in Denmark.
They are seeking to find a way to protect Earth from destruction when all other methods have failed.
Ranging from £340 million to $1 billion ($500 million to $1.5 billion), the cost of the mission would depend on how large the incoming asteroid that needed to be destroyed was.
Once an asteroid had been located, the HAIV would be launched on one of several possible rockets, including a Delta IV or Atlas V.
The HAIV would then align itself such that it would impact the asteroid, by matching its orbit.
The concept works using a ‘leader’ and a ‘follower’ spacecraft.
After the launch, the former would separate and impact the asteroid, forming a crater in its surface.
The follower, carrying a nuclear warhead, would then enter the crater and explode, blowing the asteroid to pieces.
These pieces would either be deflected from Earth, or would be too small to cause any considerable damage.
It relies upon near-Earth objects (NEOs) being tracked, so that the threat of one hitting Earth can be measured in advance.
If a potentially dangerous object is identified, the spacecraft can then be launched and sent on its mission to blow it up, before it has a chance to threaten Earth.
‘The mission of preparing humanity for a potential asteroid collision is something that should have done a long time ago,’ the team writes on their website.
‘We, as an advanced species, have had the basic technology for about half a century.
‘Events like the one in Chelyabinsk, in 2013, could have been avoided if adequate detection and deflection missions had been developed.’
Launching a nuclear device into space may not be as easy as the team thinks, as there are a number of legal issues to do so.
However, they say there are no safety issues with launching a nuclear device and, as the HAIV will be hitting an asteroid so far into space, ‘no nuclear material, radiation or shock wave will reach Earth.’
They continued: ‘Legal complications or not, we do however believe that if, say, a sizeable asteroid is headed towards a city like New York, Moscow or Beijing, we will as a team be able to gather the global support to get a mandate to act regardless of otherwise existing legal obstructions, if needed in order to save the lives of millions!’
And on whether it is illegal to send nuclear explosives into space, they said: ‘Probably not, as long as it is not a weapon.’
In this instance it would take 121 days to stop the asteroid before it hit, illustrated
The team is now looking to raise £675,000 to £6.75 million ($1 million to $10 million) in the next year or so, through crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.
By 2018, they want to build a version of HAIV that could destroy an asteroid 165ft (50 metres) across.
And by the end of the decade, they want to be ready to stop asteroids up to 985ft (300 metres) in size – which account for 99.9 per cent of asteroids near Earth.
They note that their method, using a nuclear device, should be considered a last resort and only used if other methods have failed.
Such methods could include hitting an asteroid with laser to deflect it, or rebounding solar rays into it to have the same effect.
‘However, in extreme cases with less than one year warning time and when all non-nuclear methods fail, we believe the HAIV system is the only and most appropriate technique currently available to defend Earth,’ the team said in a statement.
HOW THE HAIV WOULD WORK
Called the Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle, or HAIV, the craft would rendezvous with an asteroid in deep space.
It consists of a fore body (a leader spacecraft), which would hit the comet and create blast crater.
A few seconds later, an aft body (a follower spacecraft) carrying nuclear explosives would hit inside the crater – which increases its effectiveness by up to 20 times.
HOW MUCH DANGER ARE WE IN?
Last year, the privately-funded B612 Foundation discovered that Earth is up to 10 times more likely to be hit than previously thought.
While the majority of the impacts occur either high up in the atmosphere, or in unpopulated areas including the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the danger was still ever-present.
The findings were based on information released from the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation.
This operates a network of sensors that monitor Earth around the clock listening for the infrasound signatures of nuclear detonations.
But what these sensors found were not nuclear explosions, but rather asteroid impacts on a huge scale.
Between 2000 and 2013 the network detected 26 explosions on Earth ranging in energy from one to 600 kilotons – all caused by asteroid impacts.
See also: EADP http://asteroiddefence.com
Boom! A Danish NGO is planning to develop an Earth-saving spacecraft called the Hyper Velocity Asteroid Impact Vehicle (HAIV). In the diagram above, NED stands for nuclear explosive device. The front of the spacecraft would create a small crater, which the nuclear device would then travel in to and explode
This diagram shows a simulation of the area affected if something the size of Halley’s Comet, with a diameter of approximately 6.2 miles (10km), hit the US – a possible global extinction event
This simulation shows the area that would be affected, if a medium asteroid 330ft (100 metres) in diameter hit London. The EADP team says there is a significant threat of an asteroid hitting Earth
Shown is a diagram of how the spacecraft might look, with the nuclear device in the middle. Sensors at the front direct the spacecraft towards its target, before it impacts
Last year experts warned that we must do more to track asteroids, as one could cause widespread damage to the planet. Most notably, in February 2013, hundreds of people were injured when a meteor exploded near the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia – the largest recorded meteor strike in more than a century
Shown is a typical journey for the HAIV vehicle to intercept an asteroid that could dangerous to Earth
Shown is a typical journey for the HAIV vehicle to intercept an asteroid that could dangerous to Earth. In this instance it would take 121 days to stop the asteroid before it hit, see image
In the 1998 movie Armageddon, pictured, Bruce Willis must save Earth from an asteroid by flying to the space rock and blowing it up with a bomb
For more on this story and video go to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3019652/Real-life-Armageddon-Spacecraft-carrying-nuclear-explosives-launch-end-decade-save-Earth-asteroids.html#ixzz3Wj7HUcnO