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Talon

The Crowdfunding Campaign to Build a Nuclear Asteroid-Blasting Spaceship

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When governments refuse to take earthbound asteroid threats seriously, what do you do? Why not try crowdfunding a private project to build a nuclear explosive-laden spacecraft that will deflect the ones that might annihilate us?

"It’s a crazy endeavour," Professor Bong Wie, founding director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Centre at Iowa State University, told me over the phone. “This kind of initiative should have been done by government agencies, not the people. [Governments], however, aren’t taking this threat seriously.”

Wie is one of the people behind the "Help Defend Earth Against Asteroid Threats" Indiegogo campaign, which was launched by international NGO Emergency Asteroid Defence Project (EADP) yesterday and is looking to raise $200,000. It aims to protect Earth from rogue asteroids by building a “hypervelocity asteroid intercept vehicle” (HAIV). This is a small spacecraft that promises to “deflect or disperse asteroids and comets” at short notice.

The project page explains that "no definitive solution" to the asteroid threat has been found by scientists or government agencies to date. It cites the US Congress asking NASA to come up with an anti-asteroid strategy in 2005, a program that was deemed lacking in 2014 due to a shortage of funding and resources.

Not to be defeated by government apathy, EADP has turned to people power to get its own defense mission rolling. The goal is to raise funds to build and test the HAIV, which will eventually hitch a ride on another spacebound vehicle. Once in space, EADP wants HAIV to strike and deliver an NED (nuclear explosive device) into the asteroid, dissipating it into harmless fragments.

If all goes to plan, they’ll start the HAIV’s technical designs in July 2015, and start building the thing in October 2015. It all seems a bit optimistic with just $200,000, so I reached out to entrepreneur and EADP founder Soren Ole Ekelund for an explainer on some of the logistics.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-crowdfunding-campaign-to-build-a-nuclear-asteroid-blasting-spaceship

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