The 15 exploded in February 2013 of the year in the Chelyabinsk region was the second largest meteorite after the Tunguska, which caused significant damage to the population and infrastructure of the region. The shock wave in the city and a number of other settlements in the region damaged many buildings, injured about a thousand people. All this reminded us of the possibility of a major catastrophe and even the complete destruction of humanity, if we do not take care of protecting the Earth from meteoric danger in advance.
The fall of the Chelyabinsk meteorite once again showed that measures to monitor outer space are clearly insufficient, and methods and means of protection against space bodies (CT) are completely absent. It is necessary to build a system of planetary defense of the Earth against a space invasion as soon as possible.
To effectively combat the asteroid danger, it is first necessary to create a system for detecting dangerous space aliens.
In 1996, an international research organization “Space Guard” (CS) was established in Rome, initiated by the creation of which were Russian scientists. The task of the COP is to bring together specialists from all countries to prevent a possible collision of the Earth with asteroids and comets. Insufficient funding does not allow this organization to expand the work to the full. At present, only three radar telescopes (in Aresiba, Goldstone and Evpatoria), which were not created specifically for detecting celestial bodies, conduct regular observations of small QDs. Our and American scientists have long been proposing to begin work on creating a specialized radar for the asteroid defense system - the asteroid radar (European Near-Earth Object Radar). Radar measurements provide the most reliable high-precision information and allow you to build a stable forecast of the motion of a dangerous celestial body for a period of hundreds of years.
Asteroids are also monitored with the help of optical and thermal imaging telescopes. The latter make it possible to detect asteroids with greater probability than it can be done in visible light, because its infrared detectors can see both dark and light objects. Thus, the WISE complex, from January 2010 to February 2011, scanned the entire celestial sphere in infrared light twice, continuously photographing everything from distant galaxies to asteroids that are likely to come close to Earth. A significant number of large asteroids were found that could cause catastrophic global consequences if they collide with the Earth. These objects are large enough, but to notice them in the sky is very difficult. That is why the search for dangerous comets and asteroids should unite the efforts of many observatories and space agencies.
Russia also does not stand apart from solving this major problem. According to the head of Roskosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, today there are two systems for monitoring and predicting asteroid danger in the Ministry of Defense and the Russian Academy of Sciences, another one is being developed in Roscosmos. According to the head of the Federal Space Agency, they need to be combined in order to create an effective asteroid observation system before 2020. Such a system will allow, for example, to answer the question: how real is the threat to the Earth emanating from the Apophis asteroid (according to some astronomers, a collision can happen in 2036)? In order to accurately calculate its orbit, in 2024 – 2025, when the asteroid flies quite close to the Earth, it is planned to install a beacon on it.
NASA is already going to send an automatic weapon to the Bennu asteroid in 2016 as part of the OSIRIS-Rex mission, which will deliver asteroid rock samples to Earth in 2023. Also, the spacecraft will study its chemical composition, mineralogy and make a topographic map. A little later, these data will be compared with those obtained with the help of radar and telescopes, which will make it possible to more accurately determine the orbit of the asteroid's motion and calculate the probability of its collision with the earth's surface.
However, it is not enough to detect asteroids that are dangerous for the Earth and place lighthouses on them, it is necessary to prevent their catastrophic fall on large cities and other important objects.
Scientists have long discussed various options for building a planetary defense system for the Earth against a space invasion. Critically assessing the possibility of practical implementation of the proposed methods for the near future, experts identify among them primarily the use of a space tug capable of transporting CT, as well as an early change in the trajectory in space due to the kinetic effect on CT or crushing it into parts using nuclear weapons.
As for the first method, there is a project that Russia can implement jointly with NASA. With the help of a space tractor, it is supposed to pull an asteroid with a diameter of 15 – 20 meters into the Moon’s orbit in order to send a manned expedition to it or explore it with the help of automata. The most goal-oriented task in this direction seems to be working out the technology of towing an asteroid in order to bring it to the right point in space. This technology is advisable to use, for example, to change the orbit of an object dangerous to the Earth by colliding with a towed small CT. However, the other side of the coin is also seen here. Such an asteroid can be turned into a powerful weapon by sending it into enemy territory. Russia should seriously think about before getting involved in such projects, and do everything possible so that the asteroids do not turn into a man-made space threat to our country and humanity.
The best way to protect the earth from asteroids seems to be the impact of a kinetic or nuclear (on a large CT) charge on them in order to change its trajectory.
The crushing of a large celestial body is fraught with no less threat to the inhabitants of the Earth because of the danger of falling onto the surface of many smaller, but rather massive fragments. To combat such fragments and suddenly appearing small QDs of 10 – 15 meters in size, it would be possible to use long-range air defense and missile defense systems. However, such systems, which are in service with developed countries, are not fully capable of intercepting CT at a fall rate of more than seven kilometers per second. Perform this task only by promising rocket systems designed to combat hypersonic targets.
A more acceptable option for combating dangerous CT is not crushing, but withdrawing them from the Earth by means of a directional explosion. Little experience with the implementation of such technology from earthlings already have.
An experiment on the effects of a kinetic (nuclear-free) charge on a CT scan was carried out in the USA on January 12 2005 according to the project Deer Imrast worth 313 million dollars. The target object was the nucleus of the comet Temple 1, and the carrier of the kinetic charge was the 1020 probe kilogram mass, launched by a rocket from Cape Canaveral. 3 July 2005, he approached the distance 500 kilometers and with him towards the comet Temple 1 was sent a copper probe "Impector" 99 centimeters long and 370 kilograms mass. Having accelerated to the speed of 10,6 kilometer per second, the Impector crashed into a comet and, thanks to the enormous kinetic energy, drilled a crater in it, whose radius was approximately 100 meters (the impact force was equivalent to the 4,8 explosion of tons of trinitrotoluene). After the collision, the speed of the comet changed to 0,0001 millimeters per second. If the projectile were more powerful and the speed of the comet changed to seven millimeters per second (the figure is also small), then in ten years the comet's trajectory would deviate from the calculated one for the whole radius of the Earth.
But not always humanity will have decades in store. Then one way out - to increase the power of exposure due to the use of nuclear charge. For the delivery of such charges from the developed countries of the world already have sufficiently reliable means. So, with the help of a heavy Russian “Energy” rocket, a kinetic or nuclear charge with a mass that is several orders of magnitude greater than that of the Impector can be put into orbit. Some scientists propose to place in orbit a satellite with a nuclear charge, which can be quickly applied on a dangerous CT scan. Such methods, in principle, can become the basis for creating a system of planetary defense of the Earth against a space invasion. However, along with many scientific and technical problems related to the military aspects of the use of outer space, including the ban on the withdrawal of nuclear weapons into the near-Earth space, along the way of their realization in life. In this area, there are a number of international agreements.
Agreed on Earth
In accordance with the Outer Space Treaty of October 10 1967, States parties are prohibited from placing nuclear weapons or any other means of mass destruction in Earth’s orbit, installing them on the Moon, any other celestial body, or at a station in outer space. This treaty restricts the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies solely for peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits the testing of any kind of weapon, the conduct of military maneuvers or the creation of military bases, structures and fortifications on them. However, this treaty does not prohibit the deployment of conventional weapons in orbit.
Understanding the danger of launching shock systems into space, 12 February 2008 of the Year The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China jointly submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva a draft Treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the use of force or the threat of force against space objects. The document provided for a ban on the placement of weapons of any kind in outer space, the use of force or the threat of force against space objects. Before that, Russia and China, together with a number of other states, had been discussing the mechanisms of this treaty for six years. At the same time, the conference presented the European draft Code of Conduct on space activities, adopted by the EU Council 9 December 2008.
The draft treaty and Code of Conduct were favorably appreciated by many countries participating in space activities, with the exception of the former US administration. The latter did not want to tie the hands of their country, which achieved overwhelming superiority in space.
20 January 2009 of the Year American President Barack Obama swore on the Bible to push for the prohibition of space weapons. It would seem that the new president decided to move away from the strategy of his predecessor, but soon his position was adjusted: instead of a ban on space weapons, the United States began to talk about a ban on certain actions in space. The United States decided to somewhat change its position in relation to the draft EU code. They agree to work on it, but with the essential qualification: the future Code of Conduct should not in any way restrict American activities in space related to national security. Moreover, according to the United States, this document should not be legally binding, and will be based on the implementation of the words given by the parties, that is, the Code of Conduct will not become part of international law.
Thus, in response to calls from Moscow to sign an agreement on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, Washington responds with a stubborn refusal. It is not excluded that now, against the background of the fight against the threat from space, the USA will try to circumvent this ban and will try to add a fourth space component to the existing SNF triad. Such an outcome can dramatically increase the man-made danger of the destruction of the planet not from a space, but from a nuclear threat.
The first swallow of the US space weapon can be the space plane X-37В, which has already twice visited a long space flight (the first time is 244 of the day in 2010, the second is 469 of days in 2011 – 2012). The flight program of this device is strictly classified, officially we are talking about testing breakthrough innovative technologies. However, many military experts believe that this spaceplane was created to transport space weapons into orbit. The UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) immediately after the launch of X-37В did not exclude such a possibility. The US military does not confirm the assumption of the military use of X-37B, but these versions fit well into the framework of the Pentagon’s concept of a rapid global response, which involves striking any part of the world within two hours. Judging by the spaceplane's payload, it can also carry nuclear weapons.
As for tests of nuclear weapons in space, the US Air Force, even in the 60s of the last century, worked out technologies for creating specialized nuclear weapons using the effects of the Earth’s magnetosphere perturbations that occur during nuclear magnetic explosions at altitudes from 250 to 1000 kilometers.
In 1958, Operation Argus began. From 27 August to 6 September, three 1,7 kiloton warheads were blown up in space. The test resulted in the appearance of artificial radiation belts - high-energy particles trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field formed fairly stable “clouds” in near-Earth space. In 1962, a successful Starfish experiment was conducted with the explosion of a cosmic nuclear charge at an altitude of 400 kilometers and a power of 1,4 megatons. The giant glow was seen on the Wake Atoll, and even in New Zealand. In Hawaii, street lighting went out, the telephone connection was turned off and the local radio station was silent for several hours. The electromagnetic impulse from the orbital explosion turned out to be unexpectedly “long-range”, and the maximum radius of expansion of the plasma explosion products that screened the radio emission exceeded one thousand kilometers. An extensive and powerful radiation belt appeared in the magnetosphere. At a minimum, three satellites trapped in it were disabled due to the rapid degradation of solar cells. Finally, the consequences of the explosion disappeared only after a few years.
A possible attempt by the United States to circumvent the ban on the withdrawal of weapons into space, especially nuclear, under the pretext of protecting the planet from space danger could pose a real threat to Russia's military security. And in this case, we can talk about two possible strategic situations.
First, the United States, through solid financial injections into the relevant branches of science and industry, can become technologically advanced and create a powerful structure of space weapons. Combined with the global missile defense system with space-based elements, the factor of the monopoly presence of space weapons by the United States can play a pivotal role in shaping the military-political situation in the world. In this regard, a strategic situation in space would become unpredictable due to the global space weapons operation zone and the possibility of covert disabling of space objects from other countries. The international situation would be subject to a strong destabilizing effect due to the possibility of a sudden use of space weapons, which would cause the international community a constant psychological feeling of the sword of Damocles. A space weapon of selective action, unlike WMD, could be a weapon of real use.
Secondly, industrially developed countries, including Russia, are unlikely to remain indifferent to the possible intentions of one state to place weapons in outer space. Most likely, they will attempt to prevent this and counteract such intentions by deploying at least some types of space weapons, creating means to counter weapons-based space systems, or building up other types of weapons. The result is the danger of a repetition of armed confrontation, stimulation of armed rivalry, but now with the coverage of a new sphere - outer space.
In no case should Russia stand apart from the solution of the imminent problem of protecting the Earth from "space aliens" and can contribute to this noble cause. In the event of a real catastrophic threat to humanity, all the forces of the planet will be thrown at its reflection. The most prominent scientists of the planet should be involved in the development of a planetary defense system for the Earth, and all developed countries should finance the project. The development of such a system is required to provide for the creation of a global international optical-electronic and radar network for observing outer space, as well as means for intercepting (diverting from the trajectory) dangerous space objects. As a last resort until the creation of powerful interception means, the possibility of using existing heavy launch vehicles should be considered, carrying out their respective modernization.
The development of a planetary defense system for the Earth should in no way hinder the advancement of the Russian-Chinese draft Treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the use of force or the threat of force against space objects. Placing weapons in space, especially nuclear ones, can lead to a new round of the arms race, to the production of new types of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
Humanity today needs to have a clear plan to save the Earth and civilization from asteroid danger. However, the implementation of this plan should not lead to the militarization of near-Earth space. Russia, possessing significant technical and scientific potential, is also obliged to contribute to ensuring global planetary security, while not forgetting possible military threats, including from space.