Aiming Our Nukes At The Sky

Tim Fernholz explains what the government is doing to protect us from killer asteroids:

Why is the U.S. falling behind on its promises to destroy old nuclear weapons? Here’s one reason given to government auditors (pdf):


That’s right, the U.S. isn’t dismantling its old nuclear weapons, because we might need them to destroy an asteroid hurtling toward earth. To clarify some of the bureaucratic language above, NNSA is the “National Nuclear Security Administration”; CSAs are “canned subassemblies” that contain highly enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons. And senior-level government evaluation means that somewhere in government, there is contingency planning going on around what to do in the event of an asteroid heading toward earth.

But Fernholz notes that the planners aren’t necessarily as concerned about a “planetary-extinction level asteroid” as they are about a smaller object like the near-earth asteroid seen above, which lit up the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013.