The History of B612 Foundation
June 15, 2015
B612 Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to planetary defense from asteroids. Founded in 2002, in our first decade, we worked to find technical solutions for asteroid deflection, assuming the necessary first step of discovering and tracking threatening asteroids would be managed by the government. Through advocacy efforts and educational outreach, the issue of potentially threatening asteroids was communicated to scientists, governments and the general public. Our message was that once asteroids are detected, deflecting asteroids is a solvable technical problem, as long as there is adequate early warning (preferably decades of advance notice).
Among the accomplishments of our first decade was to develop an understanding of asteroid deflection technologies and the complexities of the decision making and policy process that goes along with employing such technologies. We also globally advocated for increased asteroid detection capabilities, which led, in part, to the United States Congress in 2005 calling for NASA to find and track asteroids larger than 140 meters. However, Congress never appropriated the money to carry out this detection survey. (To learn more about our years of advocacy, please visit our archives.)
Realizing that no government or organization was directly addressing the problem of asteroid detection, on June 28, 2012, we announced our plans for a new project in the private sector to design and build the Sentinel Space Telescope. The possibility of such a private sector space mission was made possible by the increased capabilities of onboard data processing, the move toward fixed price contracts in the aerospace industry and the availability of less expensive non-governmental launch services.
The Sentinel Mission has inspired the imaginations of citizens, media, and governments about what is possible in the emerging “New Space” economy. Coupled with the ongoing scientific research and public outreach by B612 Foundation, we hope that global awareness of the asteroid issue will continue to grow.