They recalculated, recalibrated, recalculated again and again but the result was the same, asteroid BFR-119 would cross Earth’s path and things would turn out very messy.
The only luck was that it would take another 17 years for it to happen and that was enough to get countries working together to avert the disaster. Scientists gathered in Switzerland to find a solution.
The Hollywood way of blowing it up with nukes was dismissed at once because it wouldn’t break the asteroid in smaller pieces, and if it did, it would just mean we’d get hit by multiple explosions instead of just one.
After days of discussion the only option left was to try landing a nuclear rocket engine on one side and let it push the asteroid off course. There was no better technology available nad there was only so much time to intervene.
Astronomers kept an eye on the target while others build the most powerful engine they could put up in space and more build the vehicle to get it to and drop it on the asteroid. The engine was tested first on the ground, then pulled apart to be assembled again in orbit.
When the moment came and the vehicle was launched on its trajectory towards Neptune where it would turn and catch up with the asteroid the whole world knew this was it. It would work, or it would be the end.
People set up doomsday clocks, counting down to the impact. Others set their target on the interception of the asteroid. Even other made a timeline when the vehicle would cross the various planetary orbits.
Some felt excited and positive, others depressed. Most people just accepted it or rather ignored it and went on with their lives.
Time went by. For the engineers at the monitoring station it couldn’t pass quick enough. Especially when finally the day drew near of the turn around Neptune and the meeting of the vehicle with the asteroid. More people started following the news. When the first clear images were received from the cameras the world almost went quiet.
That thing became more real now. Looking at how that giant rock slowly filled the view of the camera made people nervous. Some started wondering how that tiny rocket could ever move such a huge object. Even some of the scientists who haad faith in their solution started to get doubts.
Those who were already depressed commited suicide or went on a rampage. The death toll and wounded rised fast with each day.
The engineers studied the images closely to see where they could land the engine. It seemed there was a flatter piece on one side and they decided to steer the vehicle that way. Unfortunately they would lose contact for a while but confidence was high enough in the automated landing procedure that they were willing to risk it.
They sent the command and kept an eye on the monitors up to the last second.
Tension was high. A couple of arguements broke out and even a brief fist fight.
They counted down the time for the vehicle to land, detach the engine which would drill itself partly into the surface, then fire up the engine slolwy until contact would be re-established. If all was right then they could send the command to increase thrust.
When the first blurry images were projected on the main viewer some cheered and clapped. Later on everybody joined as they could see the engine was running and stable.
The team leader ordered a slow increase in thrust while keeping an eye on the status of the engine. There was no problem going to 100% stationary thrust and everyone sighed in relief. Congratulations went all around. Now it would just be a matter of time before the asteroid would change course. It had to.
The team leader sat down on his chair wiping the sweat from his hands when he saw one of the engineers looking pale. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘I just detached one of the probes to have a look around.’
‘Look at this.’ the engineer said as he switched the video to the main screen.
The laughter and good mood died down as they realised what they could see through the eyes of the probe. Behind the vehicle was a row of dead alien rockets ten times the size of of theirs.