China to conduct asteroid deflection test around 2025

China will aim to alter the orbit of a potentially threatening asteroid with a kinetic impactor test as part of plans for a planetary defense system.

China is drafting a planetary defense plan and will conduct technical studies and research into developing systems to counter the threats posed by near Earth asteroids, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), told China Central Television (CCTV). 

At the same time, CNSA will establish an early warning system and develop software to simulate operations against the near Earth objects and test and verify basic procedures.

Finally, a mission will make close up observations of a selected potentially dangerous asteroid and then impact the target to alter its orbit. 

The mission is scheduled around the end of the 14th Five-year plan period (2021-2025) or in 2026, Wu said. 

The system would help to deal with the threat of near Earth objects to humanity and make a new contribution to China in the future, according to Wu. 

Wu made the remarks at an event to mark China’s seventh national space day in Wenchang, Hainan province. April 24 marks the anniversary of the launch of China’s first satellite, Dongfanghong-1, which was sent into orbit in 1970.

In a space “white paper” released in January it was stated that China will study plans for building a near-earth object defense system, and increase the capacity of near-earth object monitoring, cataloging, early warning, and response over the 2021-2025 period.

China held its first Planetary Defense Conference in October 2021, with sessions, papers and presentations on a range of related issues.

China is not the only nor the first space agency to be developing planetary defense capabilities.

NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) in November 2021. The spacecraft will collide with Dimorphos, a minor-planet moon orbiting the near Earth asteroid Didymos, in September this year. 

The European Space Agency will send its Hera mission to Didymos and Dimorphos later in the decade to examine the after effects of the DART mission impact. 

China is also developing a combined asteroid sample-return and comet rendezvous mission. The mission, expected to launch before 2025, will target Earth’s quasi-satellite Kamo╩╗oalewa, deliver samples to Earth and then head for a rendezvous with main-belt comet 311P/PANSTARRS.

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  1. Following the results of last direct study of Bennu and Ryugu (for example: 1.Bierhaus, E. B. Discovery of Impact Armoring on (101955) Bennu, 53rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held 7-11 March, 2022 at The Woodlands, Texas. LPI Contribution No. 2678, 2022, id.1317; 2.Hitoshi Miura et al, The Asteroid 162173 Ryugu: a Cometary Origin, The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 925, Number 2 (2022) DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac4bd5 ), it has become clear that the NEAs are “a loose pile of gravitationally bound rubble”. Therefore the success rate of the DART mission is poorly controlled and close to zero, like to another «impulse» acts. Such internal NEA structure will completely block momentum delivery to the asteroid as a whole, similarly to the perfectly inelastic collision. It is because that a shock wave arising from an impact/explosive (together with material escaping) decays and dissipates fast enough, wasting all its energy on heating and redistribution of different sized rock fragments. Therefore, it is necessary to develop methods for a long-time and effective deflecting pressure on any hazardous object, which will allow to control and adjust the result of their action on the target. Since the gravitractor is weak at whole, being also affected only to individual asteroid fragments, and the laser method is not feasible due to the impossibility of cooling any powerful lasers in space, then the optimum way (most powerful push thrusting, scalability up to global-threat sizes and any type of hazardous bodies as well as low cost and environmental friendliness) is use of high-focused solar energy. Practically it concern to orbital-built a specific and sufficiently sized solar-concentrating structure, which is ready to transportation toward the asteroid and operate – see:
    as well as relevant section of the Wikipedia (“Asteroid impact avoidance - Use of focused solar energy”).

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