Deflecting Killer Asteroid Could Be Geopolitical Nightmare

Humanity has the technical know-how to deflect a killer asteroid away from Earth, but whether the world can come together to pull it off in time is another matter.

An artist’s illustration of asteroids, or near-Earth objects, that highlight the need for a complete Space Situational Awareness system.

A looming asteroid strike would be a global problem demanding a complex and coordinated response, experts say. Not only would nations need to set aside their differences and work together, but some would have to put their citizens at increased risk for the good of the planet, agreeing to allow the space rock to be steered in their direction from the predicted impact site.

“There are a million geopolitical questions that are really, really, really tough,” said Rusty Schweickart, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping protect Earth from asteroid strikes.

“We’re going to solve the technology,” added Schweickart, who was the lunar module pilot on NASA’s Apollo 9 mission in 1969. “But to get a geopolitical decision made in a timely way, and not just debate all the way down until it’s too late to act, is going to be a real challenge.”

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