China plans to develop a monitoring system for asteroids that pose a threat to Earth, underscoring the country’s growing ambitions for its space program.
The country will also explore ways to eliminate asteroids that endanger the planet, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of China’s National Space Administration, said in a TV interview, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. .
To test the system, China intends to send a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2025 or 2026 to study it and then change its trajectory, Wu added, without providing details on how it would work.
The Asian nation has been advancing plans for its space program in recent years. In January, Wu said Beijing had signed an agreement with Russia to build a base on the Moon, and last year a Chinese lunar mission returned to Earth with lunar samples.
China’s aspirations for its space program have heightened tensions with the United States. The two sides have argued over SpaceX satellites which Beijing says have come dangerously close to its space station, prompting the Asian nation’s government to criticize SpaceX in a memo to a United Nations committee. which oversees operations in space. Earlier this month, the Pentagon said China and Russia continue to deploy weapons capable of attacking US satellites.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is already monitoring space for asteroids that could be on a collision course with Earth. The Earth’s Asteroid Impact Last Warning System, which uses telescopes in Hawaii, Chile and South Africa, was upgraded this year to scan the sky once every 24 hours.
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