back to article NASA: We're gonna rip up an ASTEROID and make it ORBIT the MOON

NASA has decided that putting a lump of rock from an asteroid into orbit around the Moon is better than trying to hook a whole asteroid. The ARM – Asteroid Redirection Mission – has settled on what the space agency called “Option B”, sending a spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid big enough to have boulders on the surface and …

  1. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Nah! What we really need is...


    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Nah! What we really need is...

      I looked at that picture and thought "Fwoar! Angela Rippon" and then "oooh, look at all those PDPs"*

      Clearly I am showing my age. Nurse, the Bromide!

      *Whether they are or not.

    2. BoldMan

      Re: Nah! What we really need is...

      Ahh Gabrielle Drake and silver mini skirts...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Nah! What we really need is...

        Certainly a beautification campaign. Aliens could use space junk to mount a blockade on Moonbase.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Nah! What we really need is...

        Yes. The 1999 that actually turned up was rather disappointing for that reason.

  2. Scott Broukell

    Just put up a big sign

    'Any asteroid found hereabouts, having collided, deemed to have been abandoned or otherwise found to be in contravention of Earth's Near Orbit Rules and Regulations, shall be clamped and the registered keeper fined. A maximum penalty of 5-years imprisonment applies.'

    There, that ought to do it.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Just put up a big sign

      How about the UK gov creates an ineffectual regulator to give the other space rocks a thorough gumming each time one of them gets too close or dares to impact our atmosphere.

      I propose we call it Office for Diverting Space-rocks - OFDIVS.

      Sorry. I'll get my space-suit ---->

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    I would love to know what the Russian plan would be. You know it'd involve a Soyuz, a pencil, and it'd work for a lot less money.

  4. Graham Marsden

    Where's Bruce Willis...

    ... when you need him?

    1. Thorne

      Re: Where's Bruce Willis...

      The advantage of using Bruce is that after he saves the world from the space rock, you leave him there thus saving money and preventing another Die Hard movie.....

  5. JConley

    Re-directing a possible Earth-destroying asteroid couldn't be more simple: Simply settle the spacecraft(s) on the surface of the asteroid, rotate the landing engines 180 degrees, fire them up and steer the asteroid wherever we want it. Simple.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge


      Ditch the landing engines, rotating mounts 'n such and just drive the thing into it front end first. There's sweet Fanny Adams by way of gravity involved when approaching an object that size, so the attitude control thrusters should be able to ensure that no more than a gentle bump is felt.

      1. Martin Budden Silver badge

        Or drive the thing into it AS FAST AS POSSIBLE so the the bump is far from gentle. You won't be able to re-use your rocket, but the asteroid gets a bit of a nudge (a bit is all that is needed).

  6. Simon Harris

    big fleas have little fleas...

    For their next trick will NASA be placing a smaller rock in a stable orbit around the boulder?

  7. DropBear

    “I'm going to have multiple targets when I get there”, Lightfoot said. “That's what it boils down to.”

    No worries, by the time they get there, the target will be a pebble...

    1. wdmot


      No worries, by the time they get there, the target will be a pebble...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slow and relatively boring

    This is how NASA does things, albeit in the past on a more accelerated schedule. It's easy to forget that manned spaceflight started out with a couple of suborbital "spam in a can" hops, graduated to a few hours in orbit and finally jogged into near Earth rendezvous and docking (the first docking attempt by a 2-man Gemini crew with a spent Agena booster almost immediately degenerating into a hair-raising spin fest when an attitude control thruster got stuck). So we get a robot to go out and grab one of a few chunks of rock off and asteroid, tow it into Lunar orbit and then have a manned Orion meet up with it some time later. The only problem we have is what to do next. Because the original Apollo program was basically drowned in the bathtub of budgetary expediency (hey, we had an expensive war to fight in Vietnam, after all), we really don't have much experience with the biology, physics and politics of doing extended duration manned missions outside of low Earth orbit.

  9. The last doughnut

    Manned missions

    I know its exciting and all, but really in practical terms there's no point in sending any human beyond low Earth orbit. Send robots instead. As long as they don't come back what could possibly go wrong?

  10. Beachrider

    One of the things about getting a larger asteroid...

    I always thought that NASA was trying to somehow capture the asteroid and change it into an environment of some kind. If they are getting into much smaller, that must have come off the table. Perhaps they are piecing this down to meet budgetary requirements.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One of the things about getting a larger asteroid...

      No. They simply wanted to get hold of a small asteroid, or boulder from a sizable asteroid, to do things like assay the composition. There's been no scaling-down, and there was no plan (that I'm aware of) to set up any kind of base on an asteroid. At the moment, that'd be simply impractical.

  11. knarf

    Next Story : NASA Smashes Asteroid in Earth

    Space stuff fails all the time (except rovers it seems) and this really really could go wrong.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Next Story : NASA Smashes Asteroid in Earth

      If they are going to do this it'll probably with a rock too small to make it through re-entry of earths atmosphere.

    2. Bunbury

      Re: Next Story : NASA Smashes Asteroid in Earth

      Of course it might be that all previous mass extinctions by asteroid were shortly after the species evolved sufficiently to build the technology to move asteroids about and decided to blatt their enemies...

  12. Roger Kynaston


    Someone on Hawaii will be launching a lawsuit to stop NASA doing this as they think it will purturb the orbit of the moon and make it crash into the earth. After all they tried to stop the LHC on the basis that it would create a black hole that would swallow us up.

  13. Crisp

    I've seen this movie...

    It hits Paris.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: I've seen this movie...

      Shirley wrong icon?

    2. Tom_
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I've seen this movie...

      Who wouldn't?

  14. Chozo

    Moon Zero Two

    Given the way that the US space program is evolving the movie "Moon Zero Two" is looking more like a documentry.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Moon Zero Two

      I remember seeing that film as a kid and thinking it was awesome.

  15. The Nazz

    An alien boulder?

    What's to say that NASA go to all that trouble and then grab a wrong boulder, an harmless piece of ordinary rock that bumped into the asteroid many millenia beforehand?

  16. Richard Boyce

    Redirection indeed

    No doubt there are some Generals salivating at the prospect of redirecting a large object to Moscow or Washington or wherever, in a way that's plausibly an "Act of God", and with no radioactive fallout to worry about.

  17. DvorakUser

    Why not..

    ... get enough rocks around the moon - or blow up a big enough one - to give the moon a ring system? Just think how pretty that would be!

  18. ShadowDragon8685


    The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep, after all.

    I hope this works. I hope they keep funding NASA.

  19. Scott 53

    It's very hard to get anything to orbit the Moon. Variations in the density of the Moon cause orbital perturbations which will ultimately cause the asteroid to crash into the Moon. Better than crashing into us, mind.

  20. MajorTom

    This ARM Mission...

    Is straight from Kerbal Space Program. (Or was it the other way around?)

  21. JCitizen

    I predicted this..

    in a paper I wrote in high school, on meteor bombing. At the time, I cheerfully pointed out, we don't have to have radiation to have a weapon just as good as the atomic bomb - just put translinear accelerators on asteroids and position them for later on, when a quick insertion propellant can be attached to said asteroid for future targets in war.

    Of course this should be outlawed internationally, and I think it already is. Perhaps this could be seen as a violation of the space based weapons platform treaty? However, I honestly think this is the beginning of the next true "gold rush" for space minerals; that could signal a huge push by space entrepreneurs wishing to exploit mineral resources for what is actually a cheaper way to mine; and if properly regulated, could be cleaner methods for earthlings! As long as we don't clutter up the orbits of our little earth moon system, it could be something on the scale of the '49ers gold rush!

  22. greenstar

    NASA = End of Life

    NASA bombed the moon 2 years ago to send particles into the air to capture and analyze for moisture. The idiots didn't stop to think that the moon directs our tides, our seasons, our time structure. One nano- millimeter of orbit alteration would change life as we know it. That's why we're having summer in the middle of March in CA. Now they're going to put an impediment between earth and the moon? These people have NO COMMON SENSE. Stop funding NASA!

    1. ZippedyDooDah

      Re: NASA = End of Life

      "One nano-millimeter or orbit alteration would change life as we know it"

      I think you might be wrong here. The moon has been in retreat from the Earth for millennia. In fact it is retreating at 3.78 centimeters (1.5 inches) per year. We only know this of course thanks to NASA leaving reflectors on the moon way back in the Apollo program.

      I think you can relax. California is basically a desert anyway, You'd be much wiser to ration your water consumption properly because it could get very desperate over their very soon. Don't blame NASA!

  23. Dropper


    "NASA has decided that putting a lump of rock from an asteroid into orbit around the Moon is better than trying to hook a whole asteroid."

    Just trying to get my head around this.. someone decided that putting part of an asteroid in orbit around the moon is better than putting a whole one in orbit around the moon. Okay I get that part. It is better because maybe it's easier.

    The part I don't get is why they haven't worked out that not putting an asteroid in orbit around the moon at all is an even better idea.

    When you play pool you can either knock a ball down a hole, or you can get fancy and use a trick shot to knock two or three into various holes at the same time. This is like someone at NASA decided that they best way to save the planet in the advent of a planet-killing asteroid would be to get drunk and attempt a trick shot. Do they do all their recruiting from ACME, or just when they want to hire someone for the planet-saving division?

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