Russia has a huge stockpile of ballistic missiles that were originally designed to defend the country during the Cold War, but the country appears to be interested in using these missiles for anything but aggressive reasons.
Russia is interested in re-purposing these ballistic missiles so they can be used to fight off asteroids that come too close to Earth. Of interest is an asteroid 355 yards in diameter dubbed Apophis, which is scheduled to come unbearably close to Earth in the year 2036.
Another asteroid is scheduled to pass Earth within 11,000 miles on March 5th of this year; fortunately, it's a rather small one.
Russia’s tactic is much more aggressive than that of the United States; Russia wants to essentially blow these space rocks to smithereens while in space, but the United States’ new asteroid defense office through NASA wants to find a way to deflect those space rocks using gravity instead.
But which method will be safer or more reliable? That has yet to be seen, but making one big space rock into many smaller space rocks seems like it could have some dire consequences.
As CNN reports, such ballistic missile fire to target Earthly threats would only be used on asteroids measuring approximately 20-50 meters in diameter, which is significantly smaller than Apophis. The reason for the desire to defend ourselves from these space rocks may be fueled from a recent event where a 20-meter asteroid exploded in the skies over Russia with some nasty side effects.
Using ballistic missiles to combat asteroids in space is going to be a challenge. For one, it’s never been done before, and could pose great risks to our planet. Another thing to consider is that these missiles were never actually designed for space travel and it’s unknown how they’d fare in such an environment.
Although NASA thinks they’ve found approximately 95% of the asteroids in nearby space that measure over 1 kilometer in diameter, there are still some out there that remain undetected and could pose a threat to the planet.
A shared interest among nations across Earth is to protect humanity from an extinction like the dinosaurs faced, but the methods through which we accomplish this highlight our main differences.
Although Russia’s ballistic missile tactic is sure to raise some flags with militaries around the world, there’s no counting it out unless we know for sure whether or not such a process could actually help save us from a not-so-great fate.