Researcher Bong Wie and his team from Iowa State University are developing a conceptual spacecraft called ‘Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle (HAIV). The HAIV would rendezvous with an asteroid, then send a kinetic impactor at the object to blast out a crater.
The nuclear bomb would follow one millisecond behind, possibly attached via a long boom, or even free-flying (this detail is yet to be finalized), and then detonate inside the hole, shattering the asteroid into “millions of tiny pieces.” According to Wie, exploding the bomb in a hole can increase its power by a factor of 20. Here’s a video for you.
Wie has suggested that the HAIV concept would work as an asteroid-warning system. Wie said at a NASA meeting, “Some of the asteroid fragments may still impact earth, but the effects are likely to be minimal. We have the solution to mitigate the asteroid-impact threat with any range of warning.” He also added that it’s just “a matter of time” before earth gets hit again and the next strike may inflict far more damage. Wei also said, “We need to be worried when a dangerous asteroid is coming towards the Earth with much less time to spare, say less than a year. And nuclear bombs are the best answer. If our system is going to be built, tested pre-deployed and ready to be launched at any time, then we solve the problem.”