An artist’s illustration of a large asteroid headed for Earth.
CREDIT: ESA

Nuclear One-Two Punch Could Knock Out Dangerous Asteroid

by Mike Wall, SPACE Senior Writer
Date: 16 November 2012 Time: 07:00 AM ET

Destroying a dangerous asteroid with a nuclear bomb is a well-worn trope of science fiction, but it could become reality soon enough.

Scientists are developing a mission concept that would blow apart an Earth-threatening asteroid with a nuclear explosion, just like Bruce Willis and his oilmen-turned-astronaut crew did in the 1998 film “Armageddon.”

But unlike in the movie, the spacecraft under development — known as the Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle, or HAIV — would be unmanned. It would hit the space rock twice in quick succession, with the non-nuclear first blow blasting out a crater for the nuclear bomb to explode inside, thus magnifying its asteroid-shattering power.

“Using our proposed concept, we do have a practically viable solution — a cost-effective, economically viable, technically feasible solution,” study leader Bong Wie, of Iowa State University, said Wednesday (Nov. 14) at the 2012 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) meeting in Virginia.

Read more: Nuclear One-Two Punch Could Knock Out Dangerous Asteroid | Space.

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