China will discuss building a defence system against near-earth asteroids, a senior space agency official said on Saturday, as the country steps up efforts towards realising its longer-term space ambitions.
Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration, didn’t provide any further details in his opening remarks at a ceremony for China’s space day in the eastern city of Nanjing.
China has made space exploration a top priority in recent years, aiming to establish a programme operating thousands of space flights a year and carrying tens of thousands of tonnes of cargo and passengers by 2045.
Meanwhile, Russia and China unveiled plans earlier for a joint lunar space station, as Moscow seeks to recapture the glory of its space pioneering days of Soviet times, and Beijing gears up its own extraterrestrial ambitions.
Though Moscow was once at the forefront of space travel as it sent the first man into space, its cosmic ambitions have dimmed thanks to poor financing and endemic corruption.
It has been eclipsed by China and the United States, which have both clocked major wins in space exploration and research in recent years.
The Russian space agency Roscomos said in a statement that it had signed an agreement with China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) to develop a “complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and/or in the orbit of the Moon”.
The CNSA, for its part, said that the project was “open to all interested countries and international partners” in what experts said would be China’s biggest international space cooperation project to date.
Moscow is seeking to re-take the lead in the space race.
This year, it celebrated the 60th anniversary of Russia’s first-ever manned space flight, it sent Yuri Gagarin into space in April 1961, followed by the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, two years later.
Originally Appeared On: https://www.wionews.com/science/china-to-consider-building-an-asteroids-defence-system-379850