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Airbus Says Repurposed Satellites can Help Save Humankind

According to research by the European aerospace company Airbus, large satellites used for TV broadcasting might be rapidly and readily reconfigured into asteroid deflectors if a space rock threatened Earth. The European Space Agency (ESA) commissioned the study, which is part of a mission concept called Fast Kinetic Deflection (FastKD), as part of its effort to prepare for an apocalyptic situation that would undoubtedly occur one day.

Telecommunication satellites in the so-called geostationary orbit, which orbits Earth at the height of 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) and rotates at the same rate as the globe, appear eternally hanging above a specific region. These satellites are typically the size of a small bus. They may weigh between 4 and 6 tonnes, providing enough force to alter the course of approaching space rock.

Airbus Says Repurposed Satellites can Help Save HumankindStill, according to Albert Falke of Airbus, who conducted the FastKD study, it would take about ten of these spacecraft colliding with a 1,000-foot-wide (300-meter) asteroid in a short amount of time to shift their trajectory enough to avoid the Earth. According to SpaceNews, 15 geostationary satellites were ordered by commercial satellite operators around the world in 2019.

Falke said, “These telecommunication platforms, in addition to being large and heavy, are also built with quite a high frequency. That means we can expect them to be available readily in the integration facilities [of satellite manufacturers]. That’s something we can take for granted.” Suppose astronomers identify an asteroid on a collision path with Earth. In that case, all satellite makers across the world will be forced to begin transforming the telecoms satellites they are presently creating into anti-asteroid weaponry, according to the Airbus scenario. To reach the asteroid at the exact moment, all of these missions would have to launch within a month.

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