China’s space agency has reportedly said that it is developing a new space monitoring and defence system which will be tested by deliberately crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid.
State-run news outlet Global Times reported that China National Space Administration (CSNA) deputy Wu Yanhua on Sunday disclosed that the prospective new mission will be launched as early as 2025 on a threatening asteroid by closely tracking and attacking it to change its orbit.
China hasn’t yet determined which asteroid to target. But Mr Yanhua said that the asteroid detection was designed to protect spaceships as well as “Earth and mankind”.
According to CSNA, the monitoring and warning system will be based on Earth as well as in space, with the ability to catalogue and analyse asteroids that pose a threat to humanity’s space activities.
Then relevant technology and engineering will be developed to dispel the threats, the agency explained. The plan is to identify an asteroid that might threaten Earth and send a spacecraft to crash into it, changing its orbit in the process.
Yanhua said that the CSNA is developing simulation software for possible impact from near-Earth asteroids and will organise rehearsals for the defence process to safeguard Earth with other countries.
Separately, Song Zhongping, a military expert and space observer, told the state-run media outlet that China’s defence system could be an important supplement in addressing the threats of asteroids hitting Earth.
The system is currently at the project establishment phase and is being reviewed for approval, Global Times reported.
Meanwhile, China’s plan to crash into an asteroid to alter its trajectory is similar to US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) project, which took off in November last year.
In 2017, DART was announced. Now, the NASA spacecraft will smash into a binary asteroid to see if it can change its course, with an impact scheduled for some time after September this year.