Bruce Willis and his asteroid-fighting abilities in “Armageddon” may have been the star of a Senate hearing this week, but giant space rocks are only one of the many dangers that human civilization must tackle, researchers said on Capitol Hill.
Our complex web of technology is at risk on an everyday basis, said Richard DalBello, a vice president at Intelsat General and a witness at the subcommittee hearing on space threats.
“We have to daily deal with a range of threats,” he said. “Radio frequency interference -- many times it’s accidental and sometimes intentional -- space debris and other challenges of spaceflight, cyber attacks, solar weather, space systems reliability,” he rattled off.
Space junk made its own headlines earlier this year when a piece of Chinese orbital debris smashed into an unlucky Russian satellite. And commercial passenger planes regularly change course whenever a solar storm threatens to swamp the Earth.
Asteroids may be on the forefront of Congress’ mind after a meteor exploded over Russia last month and injured roughly 1,000 in Siberia – which is perhaps why former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, chair of the B612 Foundation that plans to launch an asteroid-tracking space telescope named Sentinel in 2018, was invited to speak at the hearing.