Interception and disruption

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Given sufficient warning we might try to avert a collision with a comet or asteroid by using beamed energy or by using the kinetic energy of an interceptor rocket. If motivated by the opportunity to convert the object into a space asset, perhaps a microgravity mine for construction materials or spacecraft fuels, we might try a rendezvous to implant a propulsion system of some sort. But the most cost-effective means of disruption is a nuclear explosive. In this paper, I discuss optimal tactics for terminal intercept, which can be extended to remote-interdiction scenarios as well. I show that the optimal ... continued below

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11 p.

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Solem, J.C. July 1, 1995.

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Given sufficient warning we might try to avert a collision with a comet or asteroid by using beamed energy or by using the kinetic energy of an interceptor rocket. If motivated by the opportunity to convert the object into a space asset, perhaps a microgravity mine for construction materials or spacecraft fuels, we might try a rendezvous to implant a propulsion system of some sort. But the most cost-effective means of disruption is a nuclear explosive. In this paper, I discuss optimal tactics for terminal intercept, which can be extended to remote-interdiction scenarios as well. I show that the optimal mass ratio of an interceptor rock carrying a nuclear explosive depends mainly on the ratio of the exhaust velocity to the assailant-object closing velocity. I compare the effectiveness of stand-off detonation, surface burst, and penetration, for both deflection and pulverization, concluding that a penetrator has no clear advantage over a surface-burst device for deflection, but is a distinctly more capable pulverizer. The advantage of a stand-off device is to distribute the impulse more evenly over the surface of the object and to prevent fracture, an event which would greatly complicate the intercept problem. Finally, I present some results of a model for gravitationally bound objects and obtain the maximum non-fracturing deflection speed for a variety of object sizes and structures. For a single engagement, I conclude that the non-fracturing deflection speed obtainable with a stand-off device is about four times the speed obtainable with a surface-burst device. Furthermore, the non-fracturing deflection speed is somewhat dependent on the number of competent components of the object, the speed for a 13 component object being about twice that for a 135 component object.

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11 p.

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OSTI as DE95015259

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  • Planetary defense workshop, Livermore, CA (United States), 22-26 May 1995

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  • Other: DE95015259
  • Report No.: LA-UR--95-1986
  • Report No.: CONF-9505266--2
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 101350
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc625492

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

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  • July 1, 1995

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • Feb. 29, 2016, 3:35 p.m.

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Solem, J.C. Interception and disruption, article, July 1, 1995; New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc625492/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.