Discussion Panel

PANEL-17 Nuclear Devices for Planetary Defense

5:00 PM–6:00 PM Nov 16, 2020 (America - New York)

Treaties currently prohibit stationing and detonating nuclear weapons in outer space. However, some of the most promising Planetary Defense mitigation strategies require nuclear explosive devices, and it would seem advisable to perform end-to-end testing of such devices well ahead of a future need, since once an impact threat materializes, nuclear deflection devices must work reliably, even after potentially many years of exposure to the harsh space environment, and must have predictable effects. Should the current legal regime governing nuclear devices in outer space therefore be modified to allow the major spacefaring nations to conduct this kind of testing, and to use nuclear devices for these kinds of applications, or are the associated risks to terrestrial peace and stability too great? The panel will illuminate this topic from multiple angles in order to encourage follow-on discussions among the communities of interest.

Session Lead(s):

Brent Barbee - Panelist - NASA GSFC
Alexis Blanc - Panelist - RAND Corporation
Kevin Greenaugh - Panelist - National Nuclear Security Agency
Jan Osburg - Moderator - The RAND Corporation
Frans von der Dunk - Panelist - University of Nebraska


5:00 PM–6:00 PM Nov 16, 2020 (America - New York)