Russian scientists ‘to shoot down meteorites’ thru nuclear missiles

Moscow: Russian scientists want to upgrade their nuclear missiles in order to prevent meteorites threatening to hit earth by smashing them while they are still in space.
While it may sound similar to the plot of sci-fi disaster films Armageddon and Deep Impact, Russian scientists are planning to tweak their intercontinental ballistic missiles, ICBMs, to target meteorites. Russian news agency TASS reports the missiles would have the power to destroy meteorites measuring from 20m and up to 50m in size. Senior rocket researcher Sabit Saitgaraye, from the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau, said they plan to test their missiles on the asteroid 99942 Apophis, which he believes will pass ‘dangerously close’ to Earth in 2036. However, NASA has ‘effectively ruled out the possibility’ of an impact. Discovered in 2004, the asteroid, which is the size of three-and-a-half football fields, gathered the immediate attention of space scientists and the media when initial calculations of its orbit indicated a 2.7% possibility of an Earth impact, but the possibility was later ruled out. Mr Saitgarayev 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.’
As a result, modifying solid-fueled ICBMs will require millions of pounds and permission from the authorities, and as such it is unclear whether the project will ever get the green light.
It is not the first time Mr Saitgarayev has put forward plans to destroy meteorites. In 2013 he said a Soviet-era ballistic missile system dubbed ‘Satan’ should be put back into use defending the earth from asteroids.
He pointed out that the missiles could be kept poised and ready to launch for up to a decade.
It means a missile could be launched against an approaching asteroid with a mere 20 minutes warning, in contrast to modern missile systems, which require several days of preparation ahead of a launch.

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