Three episodes into “Salvation” and I can’t believe how stupid the characters are. The premise of the show is there is a planet killing asteroid on a collision course with the Earth. It has a 97 percent chance of colliding with our planet creating and extinction level event. The U.S. government has known about it for three months, and ordered a rocket from the Tanz company to send up a gravity tractor. The rocket has to retrofitted to work for what the government wants, and in testing, the retrofits don’t work right and the rocket blows up. The gravity tractor is out as far as the government is concerned.
In the meantime, a college student’s algorithm found the asteroid. The student informs his professor, who disappears. The student gets close to Darius Tanz, head of the Tanz company, and tells him what’s going on. Tanz contacts the Department of Defense. Both the student and Tanz get added to the secret group that is trying to find ways to deal with the asteroid. With the gravity tractor out, one of the men has proposed running the IO satellite into the asteroid to knock it off course.
The student and Tanz point out that doing so won’t move the asteroid. It would instead create a lot of meteorites that would rain down on Earth with no telling where they would land. The man, who proposed the idea, concedes the point and asks if Tanz has a better idea. Tanz proposes the invention of an electromagnetic engine which doesn’t exist. They agree on that solution for the moment.
Flash forward to the next meeting because the president is getting nervous and wants an update. The man, who proposed the ramming of the asteroid, comes back with the same proposal, but this time, he’s done the calculations: the created meteors would rain down on Russia, China and Korea killing an estimated 1.4 billion people. They have two windows. The first is in seven days, the next is in 60 days. Rather than give Tanz and his team 60 days to build and perfect their EM engine, they decide to go with the first window because it gives them two chances to get it right.
What? The false logic here is that they have two chances. Unless they have two satellites in orbit around IO, they have only one chance. Waiting for the second window wouldn’t change anything. If they didn’t get it right the first time, there is no second chance. The IO satellite would be careening into space, and there’s no backup. You have one satellite and one chance. Wait for the second window.
However, there’s a larger problem. Russia and China have active space programs. Chances are they’re going to find out about this asteroid and what the U.S. did. If they do, there’s a good chance, they’ll see the destruction of the asteroid as an act of war and decide to use their missiles to blow the U.S. up. The political wonks and military people should understand that’s the natural reaction of any person in power and that this secret asteroid information is going to get out. At the very least, some spy is going to find out. More likely someone’s going to let something slip.
If colliding with the asteroid is the only choice, this group needs to make sure it has a plan to evacuate the countries that are going to be affected before it decides on this plan of action. That means the information about the asteroid needs to be brought before the United Nations and nations need to know what’s coming. Even more importantly, the U.S. doesn’t have a monopoly on “smart” people or space. In fact, with the defunding of NASA, the U.S. isn’t the leader in space exploration any more. The asteroid could be used to bring countries together; instead of as a way to fill the American ego.