Subscribe to EIR Online
This article appears in the November 30, 2012 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Asteroid Defense and Fusion Propulsion

by Ben Deniston

[PDF version of this article, plus two interviews]

Nov. 25—Two members of the Lyndon LaRouche PAC Basement Research Team, Benjamin Deniston and Jason Ross, attended the Fall 2012 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium, Nov. 14-15, 2012, held in Hampton, Va. NIAC operates under the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist, and provides funding for studies of advanced and innovative space technologies critical for NASA missions in the next 10 to 100 years. The future perspective of NIAC brings together many interesting participants, with applications ranging all the way from exploration of the Solar System, to investigations pertaining to fundamental physics, to innovations in materials and production. Videos from the symposium can be found on NIAC's website.

Deniston and Ross interviewed three of the participants on their work on asteroid defense and on fusion propulsion, areas of vital concern for the defense of Earth and the expansion of mankind into the Solar System.[1]

Professors Bong Wie (Iowa State University) and Brent Barbee (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) spoke about defending planet Earth from small to medium-sized asteroids when we have relatively little warning time before impact. Their "Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle" concept would be a two-part spacecraft, designed to operate at very high intercept speeds, utilizing a thermonuclear explosive device to break apart the threatening asteroid.

Dr. John Slough (President and Director of Research at MSNW) discussed new designs for a fusion-powered spacecraft. Using current chemical propulsion systems, a round-trip human expedition to Mars would take two to three years. On such missions, astronauts would lose both muscle and bone mass, and would be exposed to large doses of cosmic rays and energetic solar particles. The cargo required for such a mission would require nine launches of the largest-class rocket for a manned Mars mission. Dr. Slough's team of researchers at the University of Washington and MSNW, believe they have a unique solution to this problem by using nuclear fusion. The high energy density of fusion fuel means that such a rocket could reduce the trip time to 30 days, while requiring only a single rocket launch per Mars-bound spacecraft.

Read this article and transcripts of the two interviews.

[1] See the LaRouche PAC reports, "The Strategic Defense of Earth" and "IGMASS: Towards International Collaboration in the Defense of Mankind."

Back to top