It won’t quite be Armageddon, but the Russian space agency wants to develop the capability to destroy incoming asteroids that could wreak havoc on Earth.
The proposed Federal Space Program 2016-2025, which is being considered by the government, envisions the creation of a “means of ensuring the delivery and impact with objects approaching on a collision course with Earth in order to change their orbits to avoid collision with the planet,” Interfax cited the document as saying.
The 23 billion ruble ($634 million) proposal is not limited to asteroid defense, however. It also calls for the creation of orbital garbage trucks — spacecraft that would comb the trash-ridden void of low Earth orbit for fragments of old rockets, dead satellites, and other potentially harmful space junk.
The programs are part of Roscosmos’s proposed 10-year spending plan covering 2016-25 that government officials are now reviewing.
Russian officials have been particularly concerned about rogue asteroids since a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk last year. The blast shattered windows and injured 1,500 people.
NASA will partner with private organizations seeking to catalog and mine asteroids as the space agency undertakes an ambitious effort to retrieve one of these bodies and send astronauts to explore it, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver told planetary scientists on Monday.
“When Planetary Resources was founded a few month ago and following on that Deep Space Industries, I could not have been happier,” Garver said, referring to two asteroid mining companies announced last year. “It’s proving our focus of attention on areas where there is not just U.S. government interest.”