The creation of a government agency to protect the Earth from a catastrophic asteroid strike is being endorsed by a senior member of the U.S. House Science Committee.

But a related space mission to track an asteroid that may hit Earth in 2036 can’t seem to get off the ground.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) said in a phone interview on Friday that he supports former Apollo astronaut Russell Schweickart’s proposal to create a federal asteroid-response agency. Rohrabacher said he will push Congress and the president to “take action on this by the end of the year.”

The proposed agency would have the authority to deflect or destroy a threatening asteroid, most likely with the help of NASA and the Defense Department. It would also mobilize emergency-response teams if an asteroid impact could not be avoided.

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