NASA Concept to Shoot an Asteroid into Moon Orbit

NASA has a lot of smart people working for them. Considering this, I would have expected the Asteroid Redirect Mission to use more advanced technology than a firearm, but alas, sometimes violence is the answer.

Honeybee Robotics Ltd. has deployed a video of their concept shotgun that could be used to push an asteroid into Lunar orbit. Ideas on this aside (I personally don’t like the idea of an Asteroid hurtling anywhere near our planet), the concept is a fascinating look at a real potential “space gun”

Description from Video:

NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will capture a large boulder from the surface of an asteroid and transport it to a cislunar orbit. One of the mission risks relates to the unknown geotechnical properties and strength of the asteroid regolith and boulder, respectively.

The Shotgun system reduces this risk by firing small projectiles (“balls”) at the surface of the asteroid or boulder. If a ball impacts regolith, it will create a crater whose size is a function of regolith strength and density. If a ball impacts a coherent boulder, it will bounce back at a certain speed, whose value is proportional to rock strength. If the rebound speed cannot be measured, hollow balls packed with retroreflectors (similar to paintballs) could be used instead. The shell of such balls can be designed to crack open and release retroreflectors when impacting rock above the threshold strength required for successful boulder retrieval.


Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • iksnilol


    While the asteroid is all: “…” because it is an asteroid and it can’t speak.

    • #AllAsteroidsMatter

    • Joshua Noble

      Your disgusting generalization of all asteroids as mute interlopers triggers me and is clearly indicative of a mind poisoned by the taint of NASA’s hyper-masculine, crypto-patriarchal culture of oppression.

      • iksnilol

        So prove it! Where are these talking asteroids you speak of? They can’t exist, asteroids are simply too stupid to be capable of speech.

        • Joshua Noble

          They have obviously been frightened into silence by the violent, armed encroachment of shotgun toting spaceMEN into their peaceful, pristine goddess-space, leaving their defense the responsibility of pansexual asteroidkin such as myself. Therefore I must be their voice.

          • iksnilol

            The one week I decided to quit.

      • Jonathan Ferguson

        This post is genius 🙂

  • Sianmink

    Someone at NASA is a fan.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Have none of these idiots seen “Armageddon”?

    Geez. Everyone knows you need a crew of wildcat oil drillers, a stolen drill design poorly put-together, and a couple mothballed Space Shuttles modified at the last minute so you can bury a nuke and then manually detonate it at the last minute after a tearful goodbye in front of God and Country.

    Friggin’ smart people.

    • noob

      That was the original plan but we spent the entire NASA Authorization Act budget on $400 plastic ice cream scoops.

  • Joshua

    Sometimes?…violence is always the answer.

    • Dan

      It’s always the most entertaining answer if nothing else. If it comes to asteroids near earth? Then most definitely violence. Violence on a scale never before witnessed by anyone.

    • iksnilol

      I would say it is always an answer, maybe not the best but an answer nonetheless.

    • Madcap_Magician

      Maxim 6: If violence wasn’t your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.

  • Major Tom

    And why can’t NASA do this Gundam style? Simply slap on some rocket boosters and put it where they want it? It’s not like the technology doesn’t exist.

    • Zugunder

      You need to apply thrust to the center of mass. Asteroids aren’t solid, consistent bodies. Not only it hard to tell where center of mass is in one of them, but it also can fall apart once accelerated, hence changing its center of mass. I don’t know if shooting at it is good idea either.

      • Dan

        We must tickle it with the tail of a comet. That is the only way.

      • noob

        hmm so they may vary in density inside themselves, so a big dense bit might be on one corner and a lot of lightweight gravelly stuff might be off to the other side. Push it in the geometric middle and it will spin around the center of mass which is not the geometric middle. or worse, break in half.

    • Phillip Cooper

      DO. NOT. say “Gundam style”. Ever again. Begging you…

      It’s too close to a certain stupid song by a K-pop “artist”

      Dear god, for the love of all that is holy, just no…..

  • Wayne M.

    I think you’ve all mostly missed the point. As I heard the concept, the shotgun is to be used to determine the density and composition of the “boulder”, not as a mechanism to move it.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Don’t ruin my chance for snark with logic and facts.

      I’m going to rename you “Spock”…

  • BattleshipGrey

    Option #2 is probably the most accurate method of determining the density of the asteroid. As long as they have the imaging and radar capable of measuring the bounce no matter what angle the ricochets, then that should be more clear than the other options IMO.

    Option #1 is only determinate to a certain level and then doesn’t give you anymore than a “yes” or “no” answer. I think NASA can do better than a junior high note asking “do you like me? Circle yes or no.”

    Option #3 is kind of a crap shoot due to how the topography might deflect the shot and produce an inconclusive result.

    According to spaceweather[dot]com, there are currently 1611 potentially hazardous asteroids lurking near earth “and they’re finding more all the time”. All this said, I guess I don’t really know why they want to put an asteroid into lunar orbit, but they don’t ask me what I think their priorities should be.

    • Giolli Joker

      Option 3 is more aggressive, I prefer it.
      Option 2 as well could be influenced by topography givin an odd bounce and unlike the other two options it give an istantaneous result that requires high speed cameras recording every detail.
      A crater stays.

  • MR

    They were originally going to use a laser, but the life support system for the shark was too heavy.