Russia will improve ICBMs to destroy asteroids in the future.
Russian scientists are working on upgrading their nuclear missiles so they can shoot down asteroids threatening to smash into the Earth.
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According to Russian news agency TASS, scientists will tweak ballistic missiles called ICBMs and will test the capabilities of these improved missiles against an asteroid called Apophis that is expected to pass close to the Earth in 2036.
ICBMs are guided ballistic missiles that can reach the minimum range of 5,500 kilometers and are primarily designed to deliver nuclear weapons. With revamping, ICBMs will destroy all those meteorites between 20 to 50 meters in size that will ‘dangerously’ come close to the Earth in the future.
“Most rockets work on boiling fuel. Their fueling begins 10 days before the launch and therefore, they are unfit for destroying meteorites similar to Chelyabinsk meteorite in diameter, which are detected several hours becoming close to the Earth. For this purpose, intercontinental ballistic missiles can be used which requires their upgrade.” Project scientist said.
Scientists will require millions of dollars as well as the government’s permission to modernize these missiles. However, design work is already underway.
Asteroids or meteorites rarely smash into Earth and cause any damage. In recent history, the Chelyabinsk asteroid was the only one that injured over 1,500 people in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013.
99942 Apophis asteroid was discovered in 2004 and it’s nearly 325 meters wide. The asteroid initially caused a bit of concern since it was suspected that it could hit the Earth in April 2029. Now NASA has ruled out the possibility of an impact but it can come dangerously close to the Earth during its flyby in 2036.
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Nukes destroying an asteroid appears to be the best way to protect people from the potential devastating impact of killer asteroids. But it will certainly take some time to become a reality.