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Russians want 'Satan' missile shield to save us from asteroids

SS-9 Satan Scarp.jpg

A Department of Defense image of an SS-9 ICBM missile, one of a family of missiles designed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War and given the name "Satan" by NATO. (Wikipedia)

An old ballistic missile system should be modified to defend Earth from asteroids, a Russian scientist says, citing a major explosion over the Urals earlier this year.

The Soviet-era SS-18 "Satan" heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles are ideal for conversion into a rapid-reaction anti-asteroid system, said senior rocket researcher Sabit Saitgarayev over the weekend.

Saitgarayev of the State Rocket Design Center pointed to the destructive power of the meteor which burst over the Russian Ural Mountains on February 15. The sonic boom of the airburst blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the city of Chelyabinsk.

About 1,200 people were injured. Some 50 were hospitalized.

NASA believed the space rock to have been some 15 meters in diameter.

Saitgarayev said the old 1960s-era Soviet "Satan" missiles were ideally suited to such an interception role as they could be held ready for launch for up to 10 years.

Read more about the Satan missile shield at News.com.au.