Russell Schweikart, fully Russell Louis "Rusty" Schweickart aka Schweikart

Schweikart, fully Russell Louis "Rusty" Schweickart aka Schweikart

American Astronaut, Research Scientist, U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilot, Business and Government Executive

Author Quotes

We have the capability - physically, technically - to protect the Earth from asteroid impacts. We are now able to very slightly and subtly reshape the solar system in order to enhance human survival.

We're not passengers on Spaceship Earth. We're the crew.

We're sitting in a shooting gallery, with hundreds of thousands of these things whizzing around in the inner solar system. So it's just a matter of time.

When you have an asteroid threatening Earth, it's uncertain where it's going to hit until the last minute; the decision to take action has to be coordinated by the international community.

When you look at the origins and evolution of life on Earth, it's been severely affected by asteroid impacts through history.

Landing on the moon was a dream that millions of kids have had for hundreds of years.

No government in the world today has explicitly assigned the responsibility for planetary protection to any of its agencies.

The nice thing about asteroids is that once you've found them, and once you have a good solid orbit on them, you can predict a hundred years ahead of time whether there is a likelihood of an impact with Earth.

There are always natural disasters and it always seems as though the preparation is somewhat less than adequate. But we have had a series of quite substantial ones here in the last year.

There are basically two regimes. one is in the space suit and the other is out of the space suit. While you're in the space suit - which people always really mistake as a long period of time - we really wear the space suits relatively little. In Apollo and Skylab we wore the suits during launch and took them off shortly after getting into orbit, and put them on again only for EVA's (extra vehicle activities). So you can figure out how much time that is. And then again, depending on the mission, sometimes we wore them for entry and other times we did not. So you're basically talking about hours, maybe, depending again on the mission; anywhere from say, 4 to 20 hours, out of anything from 8 to 80 days.

There's no accepted global policy on what to do about asteroid impacts.

We got to the moon.

By preventing dangerous asteroid strikes, we can save millions of people, or even our entire species. And, as human beings, we can take responsibility for preserving this amazing evolutionary experiment of which we and all life on Earth are a part.

I don't want people to spend their nights worrying about getting hit by asteroids. But I do want them to encourage their political leaders to invest in the insurance, which will allow us to prevent it from happening.

It is fantastic to think that one day we may be able to access fuel, materials and even water in space instead of digging deeper and deeper into our planet for what we need and then dragging it all up into orbit, against Earth's gravity.

It is through science that we understand the world around us, and by understanding the world around us, we not only contribute to ourselves, our family, to our communities, etc. - you also contribute to the basic development and evolution of humanity.

It would take an extremely large spacecraft to deflect a large asteroid that would be headed directly for the Earth.

All of us know today the value of communications satellites, weather satellites, resources satellites, etc.

Americans who read the papers or watch Jay Leno have been aware for some time now that there is a slim but real possibility - about 1 in 45,000 - that an 850-foot-long asteroid called Apophis could strike Earth with catastrophic consequences on April 13, 2036.

An asteroid can literally destroy 80 or 90 percent of the species that are alive on Earth. These are big events. I mean, this is called extinction.

As a former Apollo astronaut, I think it's safe to say that SpaceX and the other commercial developers embody the 21st century version of the Apollo frontier spirit.

Asteroids are deep-space bodies orbiting the Sun, not the Earth, and traveling to one would mean sending humans into solar orbit for the very first time. Facing those challenges of radiation, navigation and life support on a months-long trip millions of miles from home would be a perfect learning journey before a Mars trip.

But the question is, do I agree with it when it's 1-in-100, when it's 1-in-50, if it's 1-in-20. That is a policy question. At what probability do you begin to spend hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in order to do something?

The danger is being overly optimistic about how long it takes to do that.

The frontier in space, embodied in the space colony, is one in which the interactions between humans and their environment is so much more sensitive and interactive and less tolerant of irresponsibility than it is on the whole surface of the Earth. We are going to learn how to relate to the Earth and our own natural environment here by looking seriously at space colony ecologies.

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Schweikart, fully Russell Louis "Rusty" Schweickart aka Schweikart
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American Astronaut, Research Scientist, U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilot, Business and Government Executive