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Apollo Astronaut Rusty Schweickart To Speak on Asteroid Impact Threat

Press Release From: Fullerton College
Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2008

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In early February, 2008, the Apollo 9 Astronaut will present a public talk, "Asteroid Impact - Protecting the Earth" at Fullerton College.

The Schweickart event - open to the public and free of charge - will occur on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 in the Wilshire Auditorium at 7 pm at Fullerton College [in Fullerton, Calfornia]. Wilshire Auditorium is located at 330 N. Lemon St. at the southeast corner of Lemon St. and Chapman Ave.

As part of NASA's preparations for the first manned Moon landing, Schweickart was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 9 and performed the first orbital tests of the vehicle that would later take humans down to the lunar surface. During his 46 minute space walk in Earth orbit, Schweickart also tested the portable life support system that was used by astronauts on the Moon.

Rusty Schweickart serves today as Chairman of the Board (and co- founder) of the B612 Foundation, a non-profit private group that seeks to protect the Earth from future asteroid impacts.

The major concern is an estimated 300+ near-Earth asteroids over 1 km in diameter and another 100,000 smaller bodies (above 100 meters) whose orbits are currently unknown, but which could pose a threat to Earth. For example, a 1 km asteroid hitting Earth would explode with the energy of 70,000 megatons (MT) of TNT; this dwarfs the largest H-bomb ever exploded by humans (50 MT), and would threaten life on Earth. A 100 meter body that actually impacted in 1908 in Siberia released 12 MT of energy.

The B612 Foundation is the first organization to seriously address this threat. Rather than using nuclear bombs to fragment the asteroid, they propose an "Asteroid Tugboat"; i.e., attaching a low-thrust rocket to the incoming asteroid and gently nudging it away from Earth.

Schweickart's distinguished post-astronaut career includes serving for two years as the Governor of California's assistant for science and technology. He was also appointed as Commissioner of Energy for the State of California and served on the Commission for five and a half years. In 1998, Schweickart retired from ALOHA Networks, Inc. where he served as President and CEO. ALOHA was a data communications company specializing in high performance, wireless internet access equipment.

Rusty Schweickart is presented by the Fullerton College Foundation, Inc. and the Center for the Future at Fullerton College.

More information about this event and other public space events this Spring, 2008 is at: http://fcfutures.fullcoll.edu/futures.events.s.08.htm

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