Meteorite-hit Russia proposes common space defense system

Updated: 2013-02-17 01:34


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MOSCOW - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin Saturday proposed establishing a common defense system to counter space threats, one day after a meteorite explosion injured some 1,200 people in the Chelyabinsk region in Russia's Urals region.

"Humankind must create a system to identify and neutralize objects that pose a danger to the Earth," the official wrote on his Twitter account.

Rogozin said he would present Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Monday with proposals on how to tackle similar incidents in the future.

Local experts also advocated for the building of a common space threat monitoring and warning system.

Vitaly Davydov, deputy head of Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos, told local media that strategic planetary defense should be a "priority" for Russia. He called for a special federal program on neutralizing space threats.

The damage caused by the meteorite strike in the Urals region is estimated to exceed 1 billion rubles (about 30 million U.S. dollars), Governor Mikhail Yurevich told reporters, adding the number may increase.

According to NASA data, the diameter of "space comer" was about 15 meters and it came across the atmosphere at a speed of 64,000 km per hour. The energy shockwave was equal to about 300 kilotons of TNT.

Last October, Russian rocket and space corporation Energia vowed to build a space rocket capable of destroying asteroids threatening the Earth.

The largest-ever meteorite impact with the Earth in written history occurred in 1908 in Russia's Siberia over Tunguska River, when a forest area was flattened by a slightly smaller asteroid, which exploded about five miles above ground.

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