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Russia eyes joining NASA asteroid program

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-06 14:31

MOSCOW - Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos mulled over joining an asteroid defense program with the US NASA, the agency's head Vladimir Popovkin has said.

The program is aimed at capturing an asteroid and putting it into high lunar orbit for exploration, Popovkin told Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper in an interview on Friday.

"We could send a manned expedition to explore the asteroid or study it with probes," Popovkin said.

According to the US-based Keck Institute for Space Studies, the asteroid mission could cost about $2.65 billion in total. Space specialists may capture the targeted asteroid and tow it to the lunar orbit in a giant draw-string bag.

Meanwhile, the Roscosmos chief suggested Russia build an efficient unified system to monitor asteroids and other "space invaders" that could pose potential threat to the Earth.

Currently, Russia has three systems monitoring and forecasting the asteroid danger - one at the Defense Ministry, another at the Russian Academy of Sciences and the third at Roscosmos, Popovkin said.

He called for joint efforts from various countries, as asteroids are dangerous for the entire Earth, not just one country.

"We will be able to protect ourselves only if we work together, " he said.

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