December 30, 2009

Red Moon

Russia wants to go to Apophis and change it's course in order to prevent the asteroid from hitting the Earth.

Anatoly Perminov, rocket scientist. Quite accomplished and credentialed. But it seems that he's spinning a party line. Why can he not quote his source? Where is his refutation of the NASA figures for collision? Who made the observations he's going off of? Why bring up such sentiment as

"People's lives are at stake. We should pay several hundred million dollars and build a system that would allow to prevent a collision, rather than sit and wait for it to happen and kill hundreds of thousands of people"?

Why should we pay? Who should pay? According to Perminov, Russia will create the plan, and then invite other nations to participate. Of course, since the system won't be built at that point, it's likely that part of the deal is that you have to pay to play.

Why is he spinning? Well, maybe intercepting and changing the trajectory of Apophis is not the primary goal. It may be just a cover for something else involving long term space travel and complex maneuvers. Is it possible that Russia is aiming for the Moon? After all, America beat them to the Moon forty years ago, and now there are other nations poised to. Russia did not like being beat by America, and likely does not want to be beat again, especially as China is one of the most likely to go to the Moon next. But Russia cannot come right out and say, we're off to the Moon. As it is, those nations eyeing the Moon do not have the goal a high priority. But if Russia announces that it's headed for the Moon, then some countries and China certainly would rev up their space program.

Why should we pay? Everyone, ostensibly because we are all facing imminent threat, and the time to act is now. Of course, we're not really facing any sort of threat and we will know long before the event that we will be struck. But it does not seem that we will be paying for a preventative, life saving mission. It sounds like we will be financing Russia's politically motivated moon shot.

Why demand that Russia come up with the plan and then we follow it? If the ultimate goal is the Moon yet Russia's stated goal is changing the trajectory of Apophis, then Russia will have inevitable contradictions in priorities. Russia may push an engine that is better suited for a Human moon shot, or a guidance system that that can also guide you to a moon landing, and if other nations are in on the planning stage then the best systems for the stated mission will be used. Russia must tailor the plan to their ultimate goals and then hide that within the plan that gets presented to other nations. I'm sure that they would have areas that they're willing to compromise with, so they can be seen to "show willing" but it they will not change certain parts of the plan for baffling reasons. If no one signs up, then they do it anyway, but if they can they will dupe other people into financing them.

Russia is going to make a play for the Moon, and is hiding it's attempts under the shroud of Apophis, and hopes that other nations will buy into their plan.

Popular Mechanics

But we should not ignore this threat. Minor though it is, it's consequences are deadly. As NASA plans, we should monitor the situation, possibly sending a radio transmitter to the asteroid. We have plenty of time to avoid catastrophe, and we need time to gather more information. We do not want to accidentally be the cause of our own demise. NASA claims that we will know by 2014 what the asteroid will do. That still leaves us twelve years to do something about it before the 2026 deadline. If we could go to the Moon in eight and a half years, certainly we can send a robot to bump into a rock in twelve.


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