China to build space ‘defense system’ — Analysis

Beijing plans to ‘track and attack’ an asteroid to change its orbit as early as 2025, a high-ranking official has said

China is working to develop a system that can effectively monitor asteroids, and possibly alter their trajectory to save Earth from an impact.

The deputy head China’s National Space Administration (CNSA), Wu Yanhua, revealed on Sunday that Beijing expects to hit an asteroid as part of an experiment at some point in 2025.

What is planned to be set up is a near-Earth asteroid monitoring and defense system that would also be potentially capable of protecting spacecraft as well, Wu told China Central Television during this year’s Space Day of China event.

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The system, which would include both ground-based and space-based elements, would catalog and analyze asteroids to determine which ones pose a potential threat to Earth or humanity’s activities in space. The system will include a computer simulation framework, which would simulate potential impacts of asteroid strikes, he said.

According to the Global Times, approval from the Chinese authorities is still required for the project. “coordination of multiple departments.”

China isn’t the only country concerned by the potential threat asteroids pose to Earth. NASA also has a project similar to this. US Space Agency launched in November 2021 a probe to impact a small asteroid. The purpose of the mission was to see if this is possible, and if so whether it can serve as a planet defense.

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Mounted on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, the probe, called DART, is supposed to strike a small space rock orbiting a larger asteroid, changing the speed of the moonlet by a fraction of a percent – but enough to be observed and measured from Earth. About 10 months from launch, the probe should reach its destination.

NASA stated last October that no known asteroid is likely to cause serious damage and will not be on collision course with Earth within the next 100-years. The agency stated, however that NASA estimates 60% of these space rocks may remain unknown.

In 2013, a meteor struck the Russian city Chelyabinsk. Although it was ignited in the atmosphere and very little of the fragments reached Earth, more than 1,600 people were hurt by the explosion, including dozens who had to be admitted.

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