The United States might have a new rival in the realm of protecting the earth against asteroids.
According to a Bloomberg report, China has approved plans for developing a dual-action guidance system that assesses asteroids which “pose a threat to earth” and subsequently takes out the incoming asteroids, Wu Yanhua, deputy director for the China National Space Administration, recently said on TV.
Preliminary plans have China testing the system in 2025 or 2026. The simple premise: Launching a spacecraft toward an asteroid in space with hopes of destroying it, or altering it off course.
Exactly how would this happen?
Back in January, Wu said Beijing had signed an agreement with Russia to build a base on the moon; and last year, a Chinese moon mission reportedly returned to earth with lunar samples.
Last November, U.S. officials reportedly tested an anti-asteroid spacecraft, named after the Bruce Willis movie, “Armageddon.”
However, it remains to be seen if the U.S. or China has the more advanced guidance system for terminating asteroids.
The United States and Russia have been rivals with space exploration for 50-plus years. But China’s entrance into this highly competitive field could ratchet up tensions among the superpower nations.
Citing the Bloomberg report, China and U.S. officials have been at odds ever since SpaceX satellites reportedly came “dangerously close” to China’s space station, according to Beijing.
That incident prompted a formal memo to the United Nations committee overseeing space operations.
Also, earlier in April, the Pentagon warned against Russia and China possibly deploying weapons in space that could attack or compromise U.S. satellites.
The Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) — a system funded by NASA that uses telescopes in Hawaii, Chile, and South Africa — had a major upgrade last year.
With the new equipment, the ATLAS now has the capabilities to scan the skies every 24 hours.
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