China may build an asteroid defense system

China has announced that it intends to have discussions on building a defense system to help protect the planet against near-Earth asteroids. Word of the talks comes as China has promised to increase its ambitions for longer-term missions in space. China has been focusing on space missions in recent years and not long ago said that it would work with Russia to build a space station and possibly a lunar base.

Currently, the nation is looking to establish a space program and plans thousands of spaceflights per year to carry tens of thousands of tons of cargo and passengers into space by 2045. China is also eyeing a mission that would place probes on near-Earth asteroids to collect samples and is planning a mission that would have another spacecraft orbit a comet.

However, those missions are definitely a long way off. Chinese news agencies report it would take at least a decade to complete. Currently, NASA is forbidden to work 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 worldwide know that asteroid impacts with the Earth have caused mass extinction events in the distant past. An asteroid is what caused the demise of dinosaurs and led to mammals taking over the world. China certainly isn't the only nation concerned about near-Earth asteroids. NASA and other space agencies have also eyed plans to help protect the planet.

China did not elaborate on its asteroid protection system. At this time, it's unclear if China is talking about a space-based platform or a system that would launch from Earth.