The new Space Force military branch could help prevent a future cataclysmic event caused by asteroids or other objects in space heading towards Earth, says a new interagency report published by the White House.
The June 20 report by the National Science & Technology Council, titled “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan, does not explicitly mention the Space Force, but as Space.com notes, the action plan would involve agencies throughout the federal government, and would likely include the Space Force. It cites Aaron Miles of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who said every agency brings a skill to the table, and “One of the objectives of this plan is coordinating and leveraging those capabilities where they are across the government.”
According to the document, near-Earth object (NEO) impact such as from asteroids “pose a significant and complex risk to both human life and critical infrastructure, and have the potential to cause substantial and possibly even unparalleled economic and environmental harm.”
It says the strategy and action plan “provides a road map for a collaborative and federally coordinated approach to developing effective technologies, policies, practices, and procedures for decreasing U.S. and global vulnerability to NEO impacts.”
The United States currently has three methods for deflecting any NEO from impacting Earth, Space.com says. Two of these would work by changing the course of an NEO through gravity or through impact, and the third would be a nuclear weapon to destroy the surface of an asteroid. It notes, however, that all three options would require a 10-year lead time.
The Space Force could potentially add new options to this by creating new sensors in space and new weapon options for destroying an object heading toward Earth.