China has announced that it plans to discuss building a defense system to help protect the planet from asteroids close to Earth. The news of the talks came at a time when China promised to increase its ambitions for long-term space missions. China has been focusing on space missions in recent years and not so long ago said it would work with Russia to build a space station and possibly a lunar base.
The nation is currently looking to establish a space program and plans thousands of space flights a year to transport tens of thousands of tons of cargo and passengers into space by 2045. China is also planning a mission that would place probes on asteroids close to Earth to collect samples and is planning a mission that would cause another spacecraft to orbit a comet.
However, these missions are definitely a long way off. Chinese news agencies report that it would take at least a decade to complete. NASA is currently prohibited from working with China on any space projects, so any programs that China operates with Russia or other countries will, by default, be without NASA assistance.
Scientists around the world know that asteroid impacts on Earth have caused mass extinction events in the distant past. An asteroid is what caused the dinosaurs to die and led mammals to take over the world. China is certainly not the only nation concerned about asteroids close to Earth. NASA and other space agencies also have plans to help protect the planet.
China did not give details about its asteroid protection system. At the moment, it is not clear whether China is talking about a space-based platform or a system that would be launched from Earth.