California Film Institute San Rafael, CA


Dr. Russell "Rusty" Schweickart

Scientist; Apollo 9 Astronaut

Asteroid Impacts: How Hollywood Misses Reality— Predicting and Preventing Asteroid Impacts on Earth

An illustrated talk on the issue of predicting and preventing asteroid impacts on Earth.

California Film Institute San Rafael, CA

Film Synopsis

A look at the reality and fiction behind Hollywood's representation of asteroid impacts.

Movies such as Armageddon and Deep Impact have dramatized the threat in colorful yet scientifically dubious ways, often involving old space cowboys and nuclear bombs. Utilizing film clips, former Apollo 9 astronaut "Rusty" Schweickart clarifies some of the key misunderstandings promoted by Hollywood and outlines a scientific response to the issue, employing early identification decades in advance and robotic spacecraft altering the asteroid's speed and orbit.

About the Speaker

Dr. Russell Louis "Rusty" Schweickart is an American aeronautical engineer, and a former NASA astronaut, research scientist, US Air Force fighter pilot, as well as a former business and government executive.

Selected in 1963 for NASA's third astronaut group, he is best known as the Lunar Module Pilot on the 1969 Apollo 9 mission, the first manned flight test of the Lunar Module, on which he performed the first in-space test of the Portable Life Support System used by the Apollo astronauts who walked on the Moon. As backup commander of the first manned Skylab mission in 1973, he was responsible for developing the hardware and procedures used by the first crew to perform critical in-flight repairs of the Skylab station. After Skylab, he served for a time as director of user affairs in NASA's Office of Applications.

Dr. Schweickart left NASA in 1977 to serve for two years as California governor Jerry Brown's assistant for science and technology, then was appointed by Brown to California's Energy Commission for five and a half years, serving as chairman for three.

In 1984–1985 he co-founded the Association of Space Explorers, and, in 2002, co-founded the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending Earth from asteroid impacts, along with fellow former astronaut Dr. Ed Lu and two planetary scientists. He served for a period as its chair before becoming its chair emeritus.