The Mother Of All Firework Displays

June 03, 1998

The millennium celebrations will go with a real bang, if Dave Caulkins has his way. Caulkins, a computer network manager based in Los Altos, California, has devised a plan to use obsolete Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) to launch artificial meteors. They should create stunning pyrotechnic displays up to 20 kilometres across, he says.

Caulkins outlines his plans to provide a spectacular swansong for missiles like the US Minuteman or Russian SS-18 in the Journal of Pyrotechnics (issue 7, p 26). It makes more sense to use these Cold War relics for entertainment rather than break them up for scrap, he argues.

As the missiles returned to Earth, they would release their cargo of thousands of artificial meteors, each weighing between 10 and 100 grams. The meteors would burn up in the atmosphere, with different colours depending on the chemicals with which they had been doped-sodium for yellow, strontium for red, and so on.

Author: Mark Ward
New Scientist Issue 6th June 1998, page 12


New Scientist

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