back to article NASA nuke-bot to tackle space boulders of doom

NASA plans to deal with killer comets or asteroids on collision courses with Earth are more advanced than many analysts had thought. Flight International reported on Friday that the agency's Marshall Space Flight Centre has developed designs for an asteroid-buster spacecraft which could be launched using the future Ares V cargo …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Green priorities

    I wonder if the goal of saving the planet would justify the use of the un-green technology, such as big bad rockets and dirty radioactive nukes, in the eyes of the environmentalists or will they protest against that project too (as they protested against Cassini)?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Because we trust robots with massive nukes a lot more then we do humans..

    I can just imagine the shocked look on the face of some NASA Mission director as the asteroid hurtles towards earth, closely followed by frantic robots crossing their fingers for human annihilation, while hurtling a barrage of missiles after it, just to add some insult to injury.

    I do hope to see this article come up again tomorrow, but then under the correct 'Rise of the Machines' chapter.

  3. Karl Lattimer

    Oh Please god

    Let it be sky, remove that satellite and suddenly rupert murdoch's balls are cut off...

    Oh please let it be sky!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thunderbirds are.....go?

    "Apparently, the three different plans are each optimised for different types of asteroid. Once the composition of a dangerous space object was known, the design of the interceptor would be selected."

  5. Tony Fuller

    Close Shave

    Surely a 270 Metre meteorite passing close enough to earth to take out a few communications satelites should be cause for concern? Has the possiblity of it hitting the moon or at least altering its orbit (and therefore on tides) been calculated?

    I must admit the idea of pushing out of the way sounds preferable to the earth being showered with the radiactive remnants, don't you think?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    'Disappointingly for fans of Armageddon, the NASA asteroid-defence mission included no role for any eccentric oil-drilling experts, nor even any straight-arrow astronauts. '

    But can we pack Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck off there anyway?

  7. Campbell

    Hit or miss

    mmm... first they say it's going to smash us and now the chance is extremely small.

    Makes me wonder why the panic in the first place if the trajectories are so widely different and if THEY are telling us the full story?

    Anyway's, fingers crossed it'll be Astra, or it's successor, that will be one of the satellites pulverised.

    God knows it's passed time Sky had a regulator.

  8. Craig Leeds

    Very funny

    Err? So NASA with its flawless safety record want to put six 1.2 megaton B83 nuclear warheads on a rocket ship controlled by Robots?

    This is a joke right?

  9. James Bassett

    Meaningless Rubbish

    This article is completely meaningless. 270 meters? What are these meters of which you speak? We need hard scientific facts. How big is this object in the International SI Units of Double Decker busses or Football Pitches?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd rather take my chances

    A long time ago, I read somewhere that some boffins came up with the idea of constructing a land bridge between North America and Great Britain by reshaping the Earth using nuclear bombs. Thank God they weren't taken seriously. I sincerely hope someone double-checks the calculations before allowing several megatons of nuclear explosives to detonate in the close vicinity of Earth.

  11. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Virgin Virtual Flight Air Arm.

    Is Virgin Galactic not a Personalised Space AddVenture with First Class Dream Servers/Flying dDutchman Eerste Klasse. AI Tailored Ride you can XPlore More with what you Discover in Space Training ... on Earth with Confined Space's XPerience?

    IT is Particularly Passionate when you are Alone Together in an Alien Setting/Fantasy Scenario. :-)

  12. Nev

    Al Qaeda !

    Has no one realised that this could present a greater threat?

    What if Al Qaeda get there hands on some asteroid nudging technology and push it into the Earth? Arrrg! PANIC!!!!

  13. JP

    Hang on...

    So the asteroid is going to miss us this time around, and the next time around, and so on for the "foreseeable future". But, so as to save a few, well actually, ONE BSkyB satellites, we're going to use nukes to push it slightly off course this time around, and have no idea where it's coming back next time...

    Great idea, folks! Glad you have the priorities right. I can just see in 2036, NASA turning around and delcaring "Folks. You know that slight "correction" we made last time? Can we do that, but like, 1,000 times more? It seems like it's coming straight for us this time..."

    Or even better, they end up buring off the wrong side of teh asteriod and correct the flightpath INTO Earth... "Oops. That was a +90 degrees, not a -90 degrees..."

    I'll hold off having children for a while...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So NASA can't say for sure what it's mass (which is a bit strange given they know it's orbit) and they are not sure what it's made off.

    If it turns out to be frozen beer can they send it this way. It'll be a hell of a hangover. :)

  15. Dillon Pyron


    Of course, as any fan of Stargate: SG1 knows, Apophis was a real threat to the Earth, but he's now dead. First he died on base and was shipped to Anubis, who used a sarcophagus to revive him. Then SG1 nuked the planet, which appeared to kill him for good. So Apophis is no longer a threat and NASA is wasting their time and my tax dollars.

  16. Bill Fresher

    2004 QA22

    Apophis is supposed to come 0.09 Lunar distances from Earth. The Near Earth Object Program website says that on Aug 24 2130AD there's an object called "2004 QA22" that's supposed to come 0.0003 Lunar Distances from Earth. Shame I won't be around to see it.

  17. Morely Dotes

    @ Dillon Pyron

    One word: Clones.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rupert Murdoch's balls

    If he's got any balls by 2021-2036, they should be pretty shrivelled anyway... unless he's part of the Rise of the Machines and has been a robot all along... hmm, not impossible.

  19. SpitefulGOD


    I figure that the man made virii that will be released in 2016 will pretty much knock most of mankind off the planet so is this gonna leave the survivers f00ked or are these robot warriors gonna be preprogrammed?

  20. Andy Bright


    I've always wondered about the irony of testing said asteroid disrupters - that is if they accidentally sent what was previously a harmless chunk of rock hurtling into the planet..

  21. Bryan Seigneur

    Why worrying about robots controlling nukes?

    You ever heard of a nuke ICBM that is supposed to be controlled directly by hand? The machine overlords have had control of the nukes for 40 years. What makes you think they would choose to destroy us now?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm - possible legal consequences???

    There's one little problem with the asteroid 'nuking' schemes - something called the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963...

    Salient part of the text:

    Article I

    1. Each of the Parties to this Treaty undertakes to prohibit, to prevent, and not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion, or any other nuclear explosion, at any place under its jurisdiction or control:

    (a) in the atmosphere; beyond its limits, including outer space; or under water, including territorial waters or high seas; or...

    Full text can be found at:

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just as long as.... comes AFTER i have retired to live the good life. Stuff you younger ones, you can wrangle your own asteroids and stuff.

  24. Corrine

    Close vicinity?

    Detonating a few megatons right outside the earths atmosphere is unlikely to do anything at all to the people on the surface*, given that we spend every day with something just as hot and radioactive shining down at us. (Though perhaps looking up at the explosion would be a bad idea.)

    And this plan calls for the nukes to be detonated when the asteroid is still a year, or years, away, read, out by mars.** (The Martians may take exception to this of course, their atmosphere is a lot thinner than ours.)

    It's a comforting thought that had Apophis been a real threat***, we would have been prepared.

    *Except disrupt the communication satellites.

    **Not really mars, but you get the idea.

    ***I have a sneaking suspicion that Apophis is a very very real threat, and that everybody is lying to us to avoid panic while NASA quietly goes about handling it. Mostly because I wouldn't tell people in that situation either. We are of course, all going to die as a result of this plan, because NASA is going to get its funding cut off at a critical moment by some idiot group of senators that don't know what's going on.

  25. chew6acca

    I hope the The Machines (tm) don't realize...

    Wouldn't be simpler to 'nudge' earth out of the way ?

  26. Steve Roper

    Cheating armageddon

    Damn... so those pesky humans have finally developed the technology to deflect incoming asteroids! There goes my dream of seeing humanity smashed by a multi-million tonne chunk of orbiting rock... Oh well, I still have my dream of seeing humanity destroyed by a nice chunky black hole or neutron star passing through the solar system and ripping the Earth out of orbit...

    Naaah. More likely the humans will destroy themselves before the Universe does. Forward the Lizard Alliance!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry!

    The Transformers will save us!

  28. Ross Fleming


    Sheesh! The good ol' US/NASA offers to be our saviour from being hit by an asteroid and all we can do is moan about how they'll get it wrong. I think we should be eternally grateful for them saving our hides, and offer to help foot the trillion dollar bill.

    I reckon they should practice by deflecting the moon first. Or better yet, a sky satellite.

    <removing tongue from cheek now>

  29. DrunkenMessiah

    Please please please

    Someone from El Reg delete amanfromMars' account. Everytime I read a comment list he's (or should I say it's) there talking complete balls.

This topic is closed for new posts.