Intelligent Machines

Mission: De-Mining

Removing land mines has always been tough. Now it’s rocket science. Engineers at Thiokol Propulsion, in cooperation with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, have developed a flare that uses surplus rocket fuel to disable mines safely. The flare is placed next to an uncovered mine and detonated from a distance. The flare burns through the mine’s casing and consumes the explosives within it, disabling it or minimizing the force of its detonation. The flare is much less hazardous than current techniques, such as deactivating the mine by hand or deliberately detonating it. Each flare uses about 100 grams of surplus propellant intended for the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters that could otherwise not be reused. An initial batch of 700 flares was made late last year, according to Thiokol program manager Carol Campbell; those flares are being tested in Kosovo and Jordan.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Listen in as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.