A Russian expert has warned that the United States and its allies may be developing and experimenting with asteroid weapons under the guise of planetary protection systems.
During an interview with TASS on June 30, Anatoly Zaitsev, the CEO of the Planetary Protection Center non-profit partnership and an honorary member of the Tsiolkovsky Cosmonautics Academy, voiced his concerns regarding the development of such weapons.
He said, “It is necessary to point out that an opportunity emerges to test kinetic, laser, and even asteroid weapons under the guise of creating tools of protection from dangerous celestial bodies.”
Zaitsev further pointed out the potential incorporation of these weapons into the United States’ space forces, which could be aimed at establishing dominance in outer space. The Russian expert provided insights into two potential methods of employing asteroids as weapons.
According to Zaitsev, the first method involves withholding information about a hazardous celestial body, although it is considered unlikely due to the limited detection rate of such asteroids worldwide. Each year, only about 0.1% of the approximately 2,500 Earth-approaching asteroids are discovered.
The second method, as explained by the expert, is more realistic. It involves deliberately modifying the flight path of an asteroid to cause it to collide with Russian territory.
The CEO of the Planetary Protection Center non-profit partnership said that over three decades, the United States and other nations had organized twelve expeditions to fourteen asteroids and six comets.
These missions were used to test and develop methods and technologies to control the trajectories of these celestial bodies.
For instance, NASA has successfully showcased its ability to modify asteroid trajectory through its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. Launched in 2021, the mission accomplished its objective of altering the trajectory of the target asteroid, Dimorphos, in October 2022.
The expert suggested that while the first method of asteroid weaponization is less likely due to detection limitations, the second method of altering the trajectory of asteroids for strategic impact is a realistic concern, especially given the history of asteroid exploration missions conducted by the US and its allies.
Meanwhile, Zaitsev also said that Russia is independently engaged in the field of planetary protection without general coordination.
The development of a system to safeguard against asteroid and comet threats would not only enhance Russia’s defense potential but also contribute to global protection and foster scientific-technical advancements.
Additionally, the development of monitoring systems for near-Earth space, including the “Milky Way” project, demonstrates Russia’s commitment to bolstering its capabilities in this area. The project involves a network of ground-based telescopes and specialized satellites, with the launch of the first satellite scheduled for 2027.
Weaponization Of Asteroids
Multiple research and scientific studies have suggested a theoretical possibility of weaponizing asteroids.
Thomas Bania, an Astronomy professor at Boston University, earlier said that the concept of weaponizing an asteroid is possible. This would involve landing on the asteroid, installing a propulsion system, and redirecting its orbit to target a specific location on Earth.
One potential method for achieving this is through the use of a “mass driver,” an electromagnetic accelerator that utilizes linear motors to propel objects in space without relying on rockets.
The mass driver concept was initially developed by Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill, who designed the Mass Driver 1 in 1976 to demonstrate its capabilities.
While several prototype mass drivers have been constructed since then, major countries have not yet developed a mass driver on the scale necessary for asteroid weaponization.
However, this would be a slow-speed weapon, as changing the asteroid’s orbit would take several months, and the journey to Earth would also require a significant amount of time.
Bania emphasizes that defenders would have ample warning to mount a counterstrike and neutralize the threat posed by the weaponized asteroid.
Meanwhile, EurAsian Times sought insights from a former scientist at ISRO, India’s premier space organization. Requesting anonymity, the scientist dismissed the idea of the Weaponization Of Astroids as “purely science fiction,” highlighting the significant investment required to pursue such endeavors.
Moreover, the scientist cautioned that the desired outcomes might not be achieved, given that major countries such as Russia and China also possess capabilities to employ tactics that can alter the trajectory of asteroids.
In summary, weaponizing an asteroid entails various elements, including identifying suitable asteroids, proficient maneuvering of these celestial bodies, and precise targeting of intended objectives.
These complex tasks would necessitate extensive planning over many years to achieve the desired outcome. The complexities involved underscore the substantial level of effort, resources, and meticulous preparations that would be required to accomplish such a feat.