"Project Icarus"
an MIT Student Project in Systems Engineering
published by The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1968
viii + 162 pages

Book cover

This book is the result of an assignment set to a group of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - to deflect an asteroid which is found to be on a collision course with Earth. The name comes from the fact that the asteroid Icarus (about 1.5 km in diameter) did pass by Earth with about 6 million kilometres in the year 1968, and has the potential to impact the Earth sometime in the far distant future.

As such this book probably represents the first detailed plan for the third phase of planetary defence - mitigation or aversion.

Following a brief forward, there are 10 chapters with the headings:

1 Icarus
2 The Mission Plan
3 Nuclear Detonation and Interaction
4 Launch Systems
5 The Icarus Spacecraft
6 Guidance and Control
7 Communications
8 Intercept Monitoring Satellite
9 Management and Economic Impact
10 Mission Evaluation

Then follows a page of credits and a Project History. There is no index.

This is a technical book, although in the limited number of pages it is mainly results and outcomes that are detailed and discussed with few intermediate workings. As such, it is not difficult reading for an interested lay person with a modicum of mathematical literacy. It is definitely interesting reading for those concerned with this third phase of planetary defence, and serves as a basis on which more recent discussions can be interpreted and developed.

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