Near Earth Asteroids (NEA) could be civilization killers and resource asset. There are institutions around the world trying to find solutions to mitigate the threat, and to explore the business benefit. For the past few decades, NASA, ESA, CNSA, ROSCOSMOS, and a few private companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin are working on space technologies, which might be utilized for this purpose. NEAT, or Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) was a program run by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, surveying the sky for near-Earth objects. Such programs have been finding these NEA and calculate the potential threat of earth impact in the future. By finding these NEAs as early as possible, we might be able to prepare such a threat with proper solutions to avoid the impact. Here is the link on what solutions have been proposed.
Recently founded Planetary Resources Inc., on the other side of coin, is interested in mining activities in the space. According to their website: "Planetary Resources, Inc. was founded in 2009 by Eric Anderson and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. Our vision is to establish a new paradigm for resource utilization that will bring the Solar System within humanity’s economic sphere of influence. The company will conduct low-cost robotic space exploration beginning with the Arkyd Series of space missions that will identify the most commercially viable near-Earth asteroids. These initial missions will assist the company in enabling the retrieval of raw materials from these select asteroids, including water, precious metals and more."
Blue Energy Australia believes a few important technologies we are working on will be essential to build such defense system if NEA impact event is comfirmed in the future. Likewise, we think, companies like Planetary Resources Inc. will need reliable space technologies and treaties such as:
- Fast space travel vehicles beyond conventional rocket engine capacity
- Reliable, compact onboard high density energy source (Nuclear fuel) management solutions
- External energy harvesting, storage (Solar)
- High power, extremely long duration propulsion system which doesn't require high volume of mass ejection
- Exotic/unconventional material process solution in a weightless environment
- Large payload cargo vehicles that are very safe and reliable for material and crew transit journey
- Global outer space mining legislation recognized by majority of sovereign nations
In one of our blog, we have alternative research on rocket engine for a given mission. In this blog, constant acceleration and deceleration for a distant object doesn't take into account a fast moving space object, such as NEA. For a mission to intercept a fast moving NEA, it might require the spaceship to gain same velocity as the NEA eventually. In order to push NEA away from the impact trajectory, more propellant would required. Somehow, this might not be possible if the NEA has large mass.
Here is the blog we published on rocket engine mission. As you can manipulate a result based on spaceship fuel, energy density etc., to change the maximum velocity in a mission, the result might not be possible for conventional rocket propelled spaceship because the efficiency can not be 100%. Increasing fuel energy density is one factor to achieve faster journey. When NEA impact is years away, we can prepare the mission early. If the impact has much shorter time, and the NEA has fairly large mass, we would not have great chance to avoid Armageddon.
We believe the best way to overcome all these difficulty is Buoyancy Engine: BETE, which enables ultra long propulsion period because it will not eject mass to gain acceleration or deceleration. Technically it is equivalent to a warp engine. A prototype design has nearly finished, as we update this project on the 4th of July 2017. (Happy Independent Day!)
Without these elements, search NEA only gives us the early warning without feasible solutions to avoid Armageddon.