Dinokiller Toolbox

In the gravity tractor post, there seemed to be some misconception that there is One True Way to accomplish a given goal. I think this is a mistake. We need as many different options as we can get if this comes to pass. Not to build all of them in the hopes that one of them will work, but to understand as many possibilities as we reasonably can. Under real threat, it is amazing what an individual or nation can get done.

Nukes are the favored response by many, and properly so in my opinion. Unfortunately there are people that would rather the planet die (Or at least humanity) than allow such nasty things to be used. Some would go so far as to say that a dinokiller on the way would be the will of God and that we should accept his will. We cannot ignore either of those viewpoints entirely or many others that don’t share our desire to live and prosper from now on. We also don’t have to let them dictate our options, and possibly demise. The first set of tools in the toolbox must include as many useful methods as possible for dealing with people, politicians, and organizations that would prevent even the attempt to save our civilization, however flawed.

Another type that must be dealt with are the ones that will hold the whole planet hostage to their agenda. Think of how many times some apparently worthy bill in congress has had so much pork and so many riders on it as to reverse the original intent. Now multiply that by every special interest world wide that has any capability of  hurting an effort at planetary rescue. It shouldn’t be hard to imagine a terrorist/freedom fighter with ASAT capabilities demanding religious freedom for the cannibal society of Northern Muckistan or the orbiting depot gets hit. Unfortunately, any critical mission to save the planet will have to have layers of defenses against people that would take us all hostage to their agenda, or even want to stop even the attempt.

Others will believe it is a manufactured crisis to take resources from their pet projects. With the layers of disinformation in the world as it is now, fully answering those groups is nearly impossible. Look at the financial mess of most of the nations in the world today for an understanding of the reluctance of leaders to tackle the core issues that are a cancer to their own people.

The tools to handle the people are the most critical to the eventual success of any planetary defense. They are also the ones I have no grasp on except to know that they must be available for the possible emergency. I do know that they cannot be safely ignored.

The technical side is sooo much easier and fun. We can consider all kinds of ways to deal with dinokillers and city busters without mental heartburn. We can discuss nukes and gravity tractors. Argue ion engines and solar sails. Debate nuclear thermal engines for getting there vs depots for chemical rockets vs microwave powered ion drives until we can’t stay awake any longer without losing any sleep over the winners or losers. How to attach or even if we should have a physical attachment. The comment in the last post about there possibly only being time for one probe when I think we would find the time and launchers for instance can be debated now when we are not under threat.

Let us add to the toolbox as much as we can so that if the mechanic needs to go to Dinokiller Humanitykiller One, it is just a matter of grabbing the right wrench. The right time to buy a repair kit is not when you are stranded a days walk from civilization, but rather when you are packing for the trip.

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6 Responses to Dinokiller Toolbox

  1. ken anthony says:

    You must have relatives in Muckistan! Fun is how many things get done.

    Diversity is another. While the world babbles about what to do; others, if they had the resources, could just do it.

    Let’s get industry in space and on the moon and mars.

  2. jsuros says:

    John,
    Why not build all of the tools in the hopes that one of them will work? If we see the big one approaching I want to throw everything in the toolbox, and then throw the box, at the dinokiller.
    Put study efforts into how well the last attempt worked as you prepare the next launch. There should be competitive, redundant, and different efforts underway to deflect the threat. The last thing we want is a “all in one basket” attitude that planetary defense should be approached as a decades long big science project like Hubble or Voyager.
    As to the anti nuke hysteria; I have great faith in human nature in desperate times. When it comes down to it, the hippies will be ignored and we will do what needs to be done to survive.

  3. john hare says:

    Ken,
    I don’t have relatives there, I was just honoring your heritage. :-) Fun is a major driver for a fact. And yes,a strong off planet civilization would be the ideal first line of defense for this basket even while creating others. Anthony junior could divert from a Mars run to safe an asteroid as soon as the contract confirmed. Three hours to time of diversion for a known ship would be a completely different scenario from three years to first launch through the porker gauntlet.

    Jsuros,
    While I agree with your sentiment, funds will always be constrained to some extent. It is entirely possible to build so much useless stuff that it drains the resources from the ones that would be effective. See Aries/SLS. I think a long lead time just in case construction would lead to exactly your qualms about Hubble and Voyager class attitudes. I fully agree with launching one mission after another to study test the effects of various methods. I think those methods would best be tested early on for city/villagebuster class threats if not simple resource recovery so that the techniques are well developed long before a threat is detected.

    I have read a good deal of history, and I would suggest that faith in human nature is a risky bet in times of crisis. Some people become giants of character while others sometimes actively interfere with anyone that is not totally negative as they are.

  4. Andrew Swallow says:

    Fortunately a meteor tractor can be made in several parts. The propulsion system, guidance system, remote control system, docking system and the exploding system being obvious initial ones.

    If the propulsion system is designed to have a payload of a couple of tonne then a variety of payloads can be fitted as new equipment comes on line. Things like the guidance system may even be off the shelf.

  5. Paul451 says:

    “Nukes [...] Unfortunately there are people that would rather the planet die (Or at least humanity) than allow such nasty things to be used.”

    While the west may be so crippled by idiots, it’s hard to see Russia or China allowing themselves to be destroyed for fear of upsetting a few litigious American halfwits. (And China would have the industrial capacity to whip up an Orion with just a few months warning.)

    [But honestly, even in the US, end-of-civilisation-sized comet/asteroid coming towards us, anyone who publicly opposed a rescue mission wouldn't get home alive.]

  6. ken anthony says:

    So you know about my Muckinstan relatives, eh?

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