ASTEROIDS AS WEAPONS?
I was particularly excited to read “How Do You Catch a Beast?” in the last issue. Fortune favors the bold, and it is very bold that companies are taking the concept of making asteroids work for us in space off the drawing board and implementing it in real life. I wonder about other potential asteroid uses: Would it be theoretically possible to harness smaller asteroids to deliver targeted strikes on Earth? Henry Jacobs via email
One of the general challenges of reeling in a space rock is the possibility of an asteroid that’s being towed to Earth or an asteroid fragment “unintentionally” and “uncontrollably” falling into Earth’s gravitational field, crashing down to the surface and inflicting tremendous damage. Accordingly, it’s theoretically possible to use an asteroid as a giant projectile, but in practice an “asteroid slingshot” would be too complex and imprecise (especially compared with nuclear weapons).