Ivan to Launch Asteroid Destroyer


Thank goodness for the Baikonur Cosmodrome (I just love how that rolls off the tongue).

Well, if your SLBM goes haywire and leads the Nords to think aliens are attacking, why not take a hard left turn and ram an asteroid?

If the rumblings of Russia's space agencies are true, it looks like they're planning to spool up the Proton rockets and blast the Bejeezus out of poor Apophis, a diminutive comsic rock scheduled for an Earth flyby in 2029. But NASA doesn't think there's much chance the asteroid will hit terra firma, AP reports.

When the 270-meter (885-foot) asteroid was first discovered in 2004, astronomers estimated its chances of smashing into Earth in its first flyby, in 2029, at 1-in-37.

Further studies have ruled out the possibility of an impact in 2029, when the asteroid is expected to come no closer than 18,300 miles (29,450 kilometers) from Earth's surface, but they indicated a small possibility of a hit on subsequent encounters.

NASA had put the chances that Apophis could hit Earth in 2036 as 1-in-45,000. In October, after researchers recalculated the asteroid's path, the agency changed its estimate to 1-in-250,000.

A few years ago space experts feared Apophis would come perilously close to Earth, making it a Level 1 on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale (thanks Wikipedia), but dropped it off the scale after further calculations in 2006.

By the way, Apophis is the Greek word for the Egyptian demon who tries to eat the god Ra.

Makes me kind of want to rent Armageddon again and plan out my End of Days festivities. Or maybe, all us cynics are wrong and the Russkies really will save the Earth.

"People's lives are at stake. We should pay several hundred million dollars and build a system that would allow us to prevent a collision, rather than sit and wait for it to happen and kill hundreds of thousands of people," Russia's space agency chief Anatoly Perminov said.

-- Christian

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