Project Icarus Systems Engineering

Cover Image Copyright Year: 1979
Book Type: MIT Press
Content Type : Books & eBooks
Topics: General Topics for Engineers
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Abstract

This technological fantasy, the product of the MIT Students System Project and the inspiration for the 1979 film "Meteor," presents a plan for avoiding a hypothetical collision between Earth and the Apollo asteroid, Icarus, which sweeps by every nineteen years within a few million miles (a near-miss in astronomical terms). Collision with a four billion-ton rock would create a catastrophe equal to the destructive power of half a trillion tons of TNT.To prevent tidal waves from washing away the coasts of North America and Europe and shock waves from fracturing the earth's substructure, the Project Icarus plan calls for six 100-megaton hydrogen bombs to be ready for liftoff in sequence from the Kennedy Space Center by six Saturn V rockets in an attempt to push the asteroid off course or to smash it into harmless debris. Clearly, money is no object; all the financial resources of the country are assumed available to the crack Project Icarus team. But time and accuracy are essential.The description of the frantic project schedule from go-ahead to impact includes selection and modification of the launch vehicle and spacecraft; "design" of the nuclear warhead and prediction of its interaction with the asteroid in space; guidance and control of the spacecraft on its critical intercept trajectory; development of an intercept monitoring satellite to gather scientific data from the asteroid and the explosion; the tight management and rigid PERT schedule; and the economic impact of the project.How close to Earth will Icarus's eccentric orbit carry it next time? What are the chances of some other, as yet undiscovered, asteroid -- or worse, a random meteor -- making its way straight for Earth? The MIT team's plan may yet be put to the test.

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      Front Matter

      Page(s): i - ix
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Half Title, Title, Copyright, Contents, Foreword View full abstract»

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      Icarus

      Page(s): 1 - 11
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: The Orbit of Icarus, Brightness and Visibility of Icarus, Physical Characteristics of Icarus, References View full abstract»

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      The Mission Plan

      Page(s): 12 - 23
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Mission Possibilities, The Effect of Mission Constraints, High-Altitude Interception, Low-Altitude Interception, The Final Mission Profile, Reference View full abstract»

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      Nuclear Detonation and Interaction

      Page(s): 24 - 42
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Energy Transfer Mechanism, Estimated Destructive Effect, Velocity Change of Icarus, The Nuclear Device, Auxiliary Systems, References View full abstract»

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      Launch Systems

      Page(s): 43 - 51
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Launch Vehicle Capabilities, Launch Vehicle Availability, Launch Facilities, References View full abstract»

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      The Icarus Spacecraft

      Page(s): 52 - 69
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Space Vehicle Design Considerations, Spacecraft General Configuration, Booster Adapter, Propulsion Module, Payload Module, Command Module, References View full abstract»

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      Guidance and Control

      Page(s): 70 - 94
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Introduction, Powered Flight Guidance and Control, Impulsive Guidance and Control, Attitude Control System, Electro-Optical Instrumentation, Radar Systems, References View full abstract»

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      Communications

      Page(s): 95 - 107
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Introduction, The Basic Apollo Unified S-band System, Required Modifications, Range Code Technique, The Spacecraft System, The USB Ground System, References View full abstract»

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      Intercept Monitoring Satellite

      Page(s): 108 - 137
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Scientific Mission, IMS Subsystems, Icarus Destruction Model, Scientific Instrumentation, References View full abstract»

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      Management and Economic Impact

      Page(s): 138 - 146
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Introduction, Scheduling and Coordination, Impact upon the National Economy View full abstract»

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      Mission Evaluation

      Page(s): 147 - 152
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Hardware Performance, Effects of Detonation, Final Evaluation View full abstract»

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      Credits

      Page(s): 153
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This technological fantasy, the product of the MIT Students System Project and the inspiration for the 1979 film "Meteor," presents a plan for avoiding a hypothetical collision between Earth and the Apollo asteroid, Icarus, which sweeps by every nineteen years within a few million miles (a near-miss in astronomical terms). Collision with a four billion-ton rock would create a catastrophe equal to the destructive power of half a trillion tons of TNT.To prevent tidal waves from washing away the coasts of North America and Europe and shock waves from fracturing the earth's substructure, the Project Icarus plan calls for six 100-megaton hydrogen bombs to be ready for liftoff in sequence from the Kennedy Space Center by six Saturn V rockets in an attempt to push the asteroid off course or to smash it into harmless debris. Clearly, money is no object; all the financial resources of the country are assumed available to the crack Project Icarus team. But time and accuracy are essential.The description of the frantic project schedule from go-ahead to impact includes selection and modification of the launch vehicle and spacecraft; "design" of the nuclear warhead and prediction of its interaction with the asteroid in space; guidance and control of the spacecraft on its critical intercept trajectory; development of an intercept monitoring satellite to gather scientific data from the asteroid and the explosion; the tight management and rigid PERT schedule; and the economic impact of the project.How close to Earth will Icarus's eccentric orbit carry it next time? What are the chances of some other, as yet undiscovered, asteroid -- or worse, a random meteor -- making its way straight for Earth? The MIT team's plan may yet be put to the test. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Project History

      Page(s): 155 - 162
      Copyright Year: 1979

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This technological fantasy, the product of the MIT Students System Project and the inspiration for the 1979 film "Meteor," presents a plan for avoiding a hypothetical collision between Earth and the Apollo asteroid, Icarus, which sweeps by every nineteen years within a few million miles (a near-miss in astronomical terms). Collision with a four billion-ton rock would create a catastrophe equal to the destructive power of half a trillion tons of TNT.To prevent tidal waves from washing away the coasts of North America and Europe and shock waves from fracturing the earth's substructure, the Project Icarus plan calls for six 100-megaton hydrogen bombs to be ready for liftoff in sequence from the Kennedy Space Center by six Saturn V rockets in an attempt to push the asteroid off course or to smash it into harmless debris. Clearly, money is no object; all the financial resources of the country are assumed available to the crack Project Icarus team. But time and accuracy are essential.The description of the frantic project schedule from go-ahead to impact includes selection and modification of the launch vehicle and spacecraft; "design" of the nuclear warhead and prediction of its interaction with the asteroid in space; guidance and control of the spacecraft on its critical intercept trajectory; development of an intercept monitoring satellite to gather scientific data from the asteroid and the explosion; the tight management and rigid PERT schedule; and the economic impact of the project.How close to Earth will Icarus's eccentric orbit carry it next time? What are the chances of some other, as yet undiscovered, asteroid -- or worse, a random meteor -- making its way straight for Earth? The MIT team's plan may yet be put to the test. View full abstract»