Friday, June 20, 2008

As I said -- all things astronomy are cool

A manned mission to an asteroid... Armageddon you say? Perhaps a reality if this group of former NASA employees has anything to say about it.

Shoemaker-Levy got more people inside and outside NASA thinking seriously about the danger of NEOs. In October 2001, astronaut Ed Lu and astrophysicist Piet Hut convened a one-day workshop in Houston with about 20 asteroid and propulsion experts to discuss the possibility of deflecting an incoming NEO. Out of that meeting the B612 Foundation was formed, named for the space rock on which author Antoine de St. ExupĂ©ry’s Little Prince lived. The stated goal of the organization, now headed by Apollo veteran Rusty Schweickart, is to significantly alter the orbit of an asteroid in a controlled manner by 2015, just to show that it can be done.

Not by astronauts, though.

“I’m an old astronaut, so I’m totally for manned flights to an asteroid,” says Schweickart, who was Apollo 9’s lunar module pilot. “But in terms of deflecting one, robotic missions are completely adequate and far more cost-effective.”

Air and Space Magazine by the Smithsonian. Visiting and moving asteroids. I wish I was 15 so I could grow up and do that.

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