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China is planning a system to remove asteroids that are speeding towards Earth

China plans to develop a system for monitoring asteroids that poses a threat to Earth, highlighting the nation’s growing ambitions for its space program.

The country will also explore ways to remove asteroids that endanger the planet, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration, said in a television 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 course, Wu added without giving details on how it would work.

The Asian nation has pushed forward with 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 hopes for its space program have heightened tensions with the United States. The two sides have sparred about SpaceX satellites, which Beijing said came dangerously close to its space station, prompting the Asian nation’s government to criticize SpaceX in a note to a UN committee overseeing space operations. Earlier this month, the Pentagon said China and Russia continue to deploy weapons capable of attacking U.S. satellites.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is already keeping an eye on space for asteroids that may be on a collision course with Earth. The Asteroid Terrestrial Impact Last Alert System, which uses telescopes in Hawaii, Chile and South Africa, was upgraded this year to complete a 24-hour scan of the sky.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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