Space Race: Russia to spend billions on asteroid defense
2013-02-19 0:00


Moscow believes an operable national defense against threats from outer space can be built within 10 years’ time. The 500-kiloton explosion of a space bolide above the Urals region has sped-up allocation of some $2 billion to prevent future threats.

Russian scientists have presented a federal program designed to counteract space threats. Elaborated by the Institute of Astronomy at Russia’s Academy of Sciences and the Central Engineering Research Institute, Russia’s leading space industry enterprise, the program has already been approved by Roskosmos, the national space agency.

The program has nothing to do with Hollywood sci-fi movie scenarios; no lasers, annihilators or Bruce Willis drilling a huge peace of rock rushing towards Earth.

The system will consist of a network of robotic telescopes monitoring space around our planet, some of them delivered to orbit, others operating from the surface.

Destruction of an asteroid in emergency cases may be performed by a rocket with a powerful megaton-class thermonuclear warhead. If the threat is detected early, more advanced means of changing an asteroid’s orbit may be considered.

The program costing 58 billion rubles (over $1.9 billion) has already been handed over to the head of Russia’s defense industry, Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin who is expected to present it to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Lidia Rykhlova from the Institute of Astronomy (RAS) who presented the project, reported that Russia will need to modernize and fully computerize the 60 cm lens telescopes it already has. Several larger telescopes with 2 meter lens will have to be additionally installed.

Rykhlova announced that an analytical center will be created to collect the data from various sources and analyze it in real time mode.

Professor of the Moscow State University, head of the laboratory for space monitoring Vladimir Lipunov told Interfax news agency that it will take about two years to modernize all Russia’s existing nine telescopes with the diameter of the lens of 40 centimeters and unite them into one network. A network of larger telescopes across the globe could be ready in five years.


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