RUSSIA BUILDING OUT ITS ASTEROID DETECTION SYSTEM, AND A LOOK BACK AT ...
This article from Russia's TASS news agency was shared by Ms. M.W., and it contains a number interesting statements if one is willing to read between the lines a bit, and to place it in a certain interesting context. THat context is the February 15, 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor, a spectacular event any way one looks at it. What was odd is that, about one month prior to the event, then Russian President(and current Prime Minister) Rmitri Medvedev stated that the Russian Federation should build out an asteroid detection and defense system, with or without international cooperation and support. At the time, he also stated that asteroids threatening to Earth could be targeted by Russian thermonuclear weapons or "other means" of destruction, a comment which he left hanging in the air without further elaboration.
THen, after the Chelyabinsk event, Mr. Medvedev again called for the Russian Federation to build out such a detection system. As the following article indicates, they're doing it:
Note the first two paragraphs here:
It is necessary to develop hardware and software systems for the collection, processing and analysis of information about potentially dangerous objects of natural origin", TsNIIMASH spokesperson Olga Zharova told Izvestia. She said the system development efforts envisage international cooperation, in particular, the exchange of data on the near-Earth space will be offered to the world's leading space agencies.
The system development will be carried out during the creation of the third stage of the Automated Space Hazard Warning System (ASPOS OKP), the funding for which, according to the Federal Space Program for 2016-2025, is planned at 4.1 billion rubles ($61.25 million).
"The system’s aim is to identify a dangerous cosmic body not three hours before its collision with the Earth, but well in advance, so that we could be prepared and in the future to take certain steps to divert and destroy comets or asteroids", full member of the International Academy of Astronautics Gennady Raikunov told the newspaper. (Emphasis added)
Note also the article linked in the TASS story:
In the second story you'll note that Russia is planning an actual test of its anti-ballistic missile system on an asteroid in 2036, and specific mention is made of the Chelyabinsk incident:
YEKATERINBURG, February 11. /TASS/. Russian scientists have developed a project of upgrading intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy near-Earth meteorites 20-50 meters in size, leading researcher of the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau Sabit Saitgarayev told TASS on Thursday.
The scientists would like to test the improved missiles’ capabilities against the asteroid Apophis expected to come dangerously close to the Earth in 2036, the scientist said.
"Most rockets work on boiling fuel. Their fueling begins 10 days before the launch and, therefore, they are unfit for destroying meteorites similar to the Chelyabinsk meteorite in diameter, which are detected several hours before coming close to the Earth. For this purpose, intercontinental ballistic missiles can be used, which requires their upgrade," the scientist said.
In other words, by 2036 Russia wants to have in place a missile defense system capable of defending against small asteroids, and plans to test it by blowing one up. Talk about sending messages! for you'll note that the article also queitly implies that while some missiels would have to be "upgraded", this may be a polite way of saying they already have been. After all, Russia has just revealed to the world the capabilities of its cruise missiles, and jas just unveiled a troubling new ICBM, with mirved warheads capable of striking anywhere in the world from any trajectory whatsoever, and modifiable in flight. The capabiltities of this ICBM require sophisticated space-based tracking, easily adaptable for things like missile defense and tracking asteroids. Recall also the story I blogged about a couple of weeks ago about the US wanting to move its satellites farther out in orbit to make them more difficult to target. This is therefore, I suggest, Russia's response.
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