Asteroid defence with nuke spacecraft now an Indiegogo campaign

12 May 2015

In a new slant on crazy crowdfunding projects, a team from Denmark want the public to fund a series of spacecraft with nuclear bombs attached to protect the planet from killer asteroids.

Called the Emergency Asteroid Defence Project (EADP), the team based in Copenhagen says that the likelihood of an apocalyptic asteroid strike on Earth is not a case of if, but when, and with our help it believes it can pull off something like the film Armageddon, but without sending Bruce Willis to space.

Citing a recent example, the EADP say 2013’s Chelyabinsk asteroid that exploded over central Russia had 30-times the explosive power of the nuclear bomb that dropped on Hiroshima, with a weight of 33,000 metric tonnes, which, if it had been fractionally larger, could have been a cataclysmic event.

Instead of sending humans, however, the team of scientists and engineers will send a craft known as Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle (HAIV), which has a two-stage separation procedure.

Components of HAIV (EADP infographic)

Click on the infographic to see how the HAIV will supposedly work. Image via EADP/Ninni Pettersson

After being launched at the approaching asteroid, the HAIV will separate its first section, known as Leader, which will fire itself ahead of the second section (Follower) and create a landing crater for the second half to strike.

Within Follower lies a powerful nuclear device that, the team says, will explode the comet into millions of smaller pieces, which, if Deep Impact was to teach us anything, is monumentally better than one large chunk of space debris.

The company hopes that if it manages to achieve its Indiegogo target of US$200,000 it would be able to create its first HAIV craft in a space of between 18 and 24 months followed by six months of testing.

While obvious questions abound as to how exactly it plans to source nuclear weapon capable material or what international space agencies will say of the non-profit group’s ambitions, it is seemingly something of a relief to know that it’s unlikely to lead to us accidentally nuking ourselves … or so they say.

To ease people’s fears, here’s what happened when the team from Deep Impact failed to stop one large chunk of asteroid colliding with Earth wiping out millions of people. Oh.

Asteroid colliding with Earth image, via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic