Asteroid Defense Taken Up At UN General Assembly, No Mention of SDE
October 27, 2013 • 8:23AM

See LaRouchePAC's Strategic Defense of Earth (SDE) page.

On Friday, October 25, five former astronauts, cosmonauts, and space explorers participated in a panel discussion on the defense of Earth from asteroids at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The public media event was held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly taking its first steps in addressing the asteroid defense issue. Strangely, there was no mention of Russia's offers for strategic cooperation with the United States on asteroid defense.

The participating astronauts are part of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE; a very select group, to be a member you have to have flown in space) which has taken up the issue of asteroid defense over the past decade, including the publication of a 2008 report (Asteroid Threats: A Call For Global Response, which included recommendations to the United Nations. Since then, the ASE has been working with the United Nations, initially within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), which (after years of work) adopted a series of recommendations on asteroid defense in February this year, ironically just as the Chelyabinsk meteor impact was occurring, but not in response to it.

On Oct. 23, the General Assembly endorsed the UN COPUOS recommendations (with final approval expected before the end of October), described by the astronauts as having three main components. First, the creation of an International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), which will consolidate and share the international observations of asteroids, their calculated orbits, and possible impact risks; much of this already exists, but this is an attempt to make it a more formal structure. Secondly, there will be a "Space Missions Planning and Advisory Group," set up to plan and analyze general asteroid deflection strategies and associated technologies, providing that information to national space agencies. Third, in the case of a credible threat, the UN COPUOS will have an ad hoc advisory group which will provide advice on how to respond to the threat.

During the public media event, former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart appeared to be happy with the progress, but described this as the adoption of a "skeleton of a decision-making process," with "no meat on the bones." While this is a step forward, he said that more work over the coming years would be needed in order to make the United Nations an active center for planetary defense.

It was quite notable that during the public media event, there was no explicit mention of Russia's offers for cooperation with the United States in a Strategic Defense of Earth program, despite the fact that the offer has been repeated by many high-ranking Russian officials consistently for the past two years.

In the view of the LaRouchePAC Basement team, while it is important that the UN discussion is placing more attention on the need for a defense of Earth, the real solution will require a much more encompassing response. Mankind's future in the Solar System requires overturning the past 40 years of a post-industrial, zero-growth policy, and expanding mankind's presence as an active force throughout the inner Solar System, premised on the development of a thermonuclear fusion economic platform.