The Sentinel Mission
… by Michael Shrimpton
Nice to talk about something really interesting and useful (for a change, I hear you say)! Sentinel is an idea put together by a wonderful bunch of folks called the B612 Foundation, co-founded by astronauts Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9) and Ed Lu. Naturally I have sent them a link to this week’s column as a courtesy.
This is something close to my heart, that I have been wanting to write about for some time. Trouble is the Bad Guys keep coming up with stuff!
Sometime the Good Guys do things as well, like annexing Crimea. Just reacting to stuff, good or bad, risks taking your eye off the ball. We need to think about the long-term as well.
There are few more far-sighted projects than Sentinel. The idea is to place an infrared telescope in a deep space orbit, just out from Venus. The telescope’s distance from Earth will vary from 30 to 170 million miles. The details are set out on B612’s excellent website.
Sentinel will permit accurate mapping of the Inner Solar System for the first time. Why is that important, I hear you ask? Well, for one thing we don’t want to lose a city to an asteroid, even Birmingham. At the moment we can only track very big asteroids.
Asteroids, as the more space literate of you will know, are very big lumps of rock whizzing around in space, which will do you a lot of damage if they hit you. PaceDelBoy in Only Fools and Horses, they are not to be confused with hemorrhoids, which are only very small lumps, albeit in an uncomfortable spot.
It seems that we have only plotted about 1% of the potential city-smashers. That’s not good. What’s more we cannot track them easily if they are obscured by the Sun. Not only can they sneak up on us, they have been, hence the surprise over the Chelyabinsk meteor, a meteor basically being a small asteroid, or cometary fragment.
Only by going deep into space, and pointing our telescope away from the Sun, can we protect the Earth, which is what we want to do right? Infrared works best, as asteroids stand out in the deep cold of space.
The technology behind Sentinel has been worked out with NASA. The B612 boys have gone for low technological risk, which makes complete sense to me. The bird will be cooled to 40o Kelvin (chillier than a tinny of Fosters) and will have the ability to resolve data on board, cutting down on downlink bandwidth.
Accuracy of projected track will be high. Planned launch vehicle is a SpaceX Falcon 2-stage rocket, a proven and reliable system.
The science and thinking behind the project are sound. Detection decades out from a predicted collision would allow target deflection with existing technology. It’s not rocket science. Well, actually it is rocket science, but rocket science 101, or maybe 102. If your asteroid is 25 years out, only a tiny deflection is needed to miss Earth, and for tiny deflections you only need small amounts of energy.
Do a Deep Impact (yes, I know that was a comet), miss the thing until it’s nearly upon us and you’re looking at huge amounts of energy, i.e. nuclear detonations, with a good chance of failure. The problem is kinetic energy. A big asteroid moving at high speed has lots of it.
It’s a bit like steering a 1,000,000 ton fully-loaded supertanker. If your radar is working, the bridge are alert and you spot the Italian cruise ship heading into your path from 25 miles away only a gentle course correction is needed. If your radar is u/s, your bridge is also manned by Italians and the off-course cruise ship is spotted so close that you can already read the menus you are deep in the doo-doo.
You can shove the helm hard over, engage the bow thrusters, put one engine in reverse and the other at full speed, ask the crew to assemble on deck and blow in the direction of the cruise ship and do all the other things that panicking ships captains do when they are about to supervise a collision, but it may all be too late.
Of course, if the officer of the watch is a German asset and is trying to ram the obstacle on your bow, then it doesn’t matter how alert your lookouts are, but that’s another story, told in Chapter 13 of Spyhunter!
So What’s the Hold-Up?
Sentinel is one of the best worked-out and most sensible projects I have ever come across. Projected cost is only $250m. Peanuts compared with the cost of losing a city, even Birmingham. Since no one knows what is out there and when the next big city-smashing rock is going to hit us saying that we might not lose a city for a 100, 1,000 or 10,000 years, or that it might crash into sea, or only take out Birmingham, doesn’t take us very far.
It could happen next month, and it could be somewhere nice, like Denver, or Inverness (we had a lovely Highland holiday, thank you very much!) or Portland.
It’s a no-brainer, but the federal government isn’t backing it, nor is any other government or official body. That isn’t because they’ve got no brains, and it isn’t lack of money. The British government wastes about $3 billion a week, and weekly fails to collect another $3 billion or so in tax revenue. The federal government cannot be wasting less in a day than the British government wastes in a working week, and you guys have an even bigger problem with tax-dodging illegals than we do.
If Peter Boyles’ figure of 40-42 million illegals in the US is in the ballpark, and I have a terrible feeling that it might be, then the US is probably watching a billion untaxed dollars a day go walkies out of the country.
No, it’s something deeper. The B612 boys are not going to get the support they need from any official source soon, certainly not in the US, and not in the UK either, unless there’s a change of government and we get a sensible one instead. I am sure the UK should be swinging in behind this one, in exchange for some production offsets. It’s something that my old friend Sir Patrick Moore would have supported.
In the meantime, industry needs to lend a hand. Why should B612 have to pay for a launch when commercial satellite companies could sponsor a free one? We have free lunches, why not free launches? Why should the boys be having to raise money to pay for insurance, when they are trying to insure the planet? There must be sponsors willing to pick up the tab. Why shouldn’t the aerospace industry fund the bird itself?
For that matter why just have one bird? What’s wrong with two, or even three, cutting down the mapping time and building in redundancy? We’ll need the mapping data anyway for when we finally start exploring the Solar System. Collisions are best avoided in space.
My TruNews Interview
Some of you may have listened to my joint interview with Lord Monckton, on Thursday (I was speaking from my hotel room). There seems to be a lot of interest, not just in theVulcan prosecution, but also in the connection with the Obama eligibility issue.
There has been some confusion over this, caused I suspect by the coincidence of my trial (the one which never happened) and my videoed 2008 briefing to the Marlborough Research Group going viral, only it wasn’t, I suspect, a coincidence. Word in the street is that Mr O wanted me discredited and was backing the prosecution. An agency which shall remain nameless then deniably dropped the video excerpt around to a website.
More than that, word has reached my ear of a connection between a senior member of the Administration and a couple of Serbs implicated in the east London safe facility (it wasn’t actually a house – it was usually used for storing narcotics) where the Vulcan One warhead was stored. So, there is a link, but it’s an intelligence rather than a legal link.
The subject of Obama’s birth will come up at trial however, should we get that far, as the CPS, for reasons best known to themselves, have stuck an illegally-seized email advising me of the Obama SSN issue into their bundle. Whoops!
Can anyone tell me what is bugging Orly Taitz? Every time I am interviewed she seems to have a pop at me. This time she not only insulted me by calling me an attorney (please!) but was whining, with respect, about the interviewer’s comments on the SSN. She accused me of being taken in by that hoax that did the rounds a few years ago, whereas I have hardly commented on the SSN issue at all. There is apparently a problem with Obama’s SSN, but it’s not an issue I have worked on.
I am then accused of suggesting that the CIA took a DNA sample from a man who had been dead for 20 years. It’s a bit tricky, although if you can extract DNA from a mummy (an Egyptian mummy that is, as in the movie) you can in theory get a sample from someone who is dead but wasn’t a pharaoh. Apart from a slight stumble when speaking in 2008 without notes on something not the main subject of my presentation, I have been consistent over the last 6 years: the CIA’s maternal DNA sample came from the claimed grandmother.
I have always tried to be polite to Orly, and even offered to help her a few times, but with respect she can’t even bring herself to start her e-mails to me with “dear Michael”, although in fairness she isn’t saying “listen here you scumbag” or anything of that sort.
The Adams Arrest
This is Adams as in Gerry Adams, as in the alleged IRA terrorist, not as in The Addams Family. Gerry is actually one of the nicest alleged terrorists I’ve ever met, a long time ago, when I was so left-wing and naïve I thought that the Bloody Sunday shootings weren’t justified (yes, I used to be that left wing!)
Ministers have been frantically running around saying the arrest wasn’t political. They’re right. The idiotic Coalition Government actually believes in the peace process, and weren’t consulted. I rather suspect that the initiative for this sensible move came from within UKINTELCOM.
The UK is pulling out of the absurd Northern Ireland peace process. It will be a gradual disengagement, but a disengagement nonetheless. Obama can’t stop it, as he was born in a British Protected Territory and British Intelligencehave the files! There won’t be a prosecution, as UK prosecuting authorities are ultimately controlled by the Cabinet Office, which wanted Adams’s own lawyer as DPP in Northern Ireland.
As I explain in Spyhunter (moderately priced at £25 + p & p and available from www.JunePress.com and www.Amazon.co.uk) the IRA lied about German sponsorship, just as the Republic of Ireland lied over its claim to have been neutral in World War II. Readers of Spyhunter will not have been surprised at this week’s developments.
Classic Movie of the Week: Thunder Bay (1953)
What’s the intelligence interest, you may ask, in this fine, 60 year old movie starring James Stewart, Joanne Dru and Jay Flippen? It’s all about a battle between offshore oilmen and shrimp fishermen. (Technically, I suppose I should be on the side of the shrimpers!)
There’s great acting from Stewart and Flippen, a fine old romance, lots of action and some lovely shots of a converted PBY, but more than that the movie’s a slice of history. The plot centers around the claim of Stewart’s character to have developed the world’s first offshore rig. That was taking a slight liberty with the facts, as the first true offshore wells were developed in 1947, a few years before the movie was set.
What the movie illustrates however is the extent of the opposition and the staggering delays in developing such an obvious notion as drilling for oil offshore. In fact it was first tried, in a very limited way, in the Caspian Sea in the 1920s.
Why did the oil companies hold back until after World War II, during which there was a desperate need for energy? Because they were mostly under the direction of, or subject to the influence of, the Abwehr, that’s why. Once the Allies had won, there was no point in holding back.
Michael Shrimpton is a barrister, called to the Bar in London 1983. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counterterrorism. Michael was formerly an Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies in what was then the Department of National Security, Intelligence and Space Studies at the American Military University. Michael’s ground-breaking, 700 page intelligence text “Spyhunter: The Secret History of German Intelligence” was published in England by June Press on April 14th 2014.
Editing: Erica P. Wissinger