Following the so-called 2013 Russian meteor event at Chelyabinsk and the close flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14, space miner Deep Space Industries (DSI) suggested creating a picket line of spacecraft that can identify and intercept future extraterrestrial threats to Earth.
The 2013 meteor exploded in the skies over norther Russia with the force of nearly 500 kilotons. The explosion briefly outshone the sun for half a minute and injured thousands of people.
In response, DSI proposes establishing several sentry lines of small spacecraft around the Earth. These spacecraft will initially take useful photos and data of asteroids and meteorites on a dangerous trajectory towards Earth. Later spacecraft can obtain samples from the space rocks and sent them back to Earth for analysis.
The photos and samples will be used to identify the composition and structure of an incoming asteroid. This data will be used to tailor an intercept for the particular asteroid. A method to deflect a solid asteroid will not work as well against a pile of gravel and rock.
These picket lines will be watching out for more than 10,000 near-Earth asteroids, with more than 900 of them discovered every year. Most of these planetoids can destroy a major city. About a hundred can render life on Earth as dead as the dinosaurs. And yet despite their dangerous potential, we know little about their composition and structure.
Deep Space Industries plans to offer a coordinated low-cost commercial solution that will serve to defend humankind against asteroids. According to David Gump, CEO, ten of the Company’s FireFly mining spacecraft can establish a picket line within just four years and for less than $100 million. A larger version can serve as the basis for asteroid interceptors.
The DSI FireFly series are originally intended to prospect small asteroids. If all goes according to schedule, the FireFlies will be able to capture an asteroid and drag it back to Earth orbit for exploitation.
Asteroids contain metals, rocket fuel, and water. They can be used to refuel and repair older or exhausted satellites.
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