NASA is worried that China might be on its way to taking over the natural resources available on the Moon.
For several years the United States and China have been in the middle of a space race, and now the U.S. needs to keep an eye on its rival to ensure that it does not gain a foothold and try to dominate the resource-rich areas of the Moon. This is why the tussle between the two countries is intensifying and, according to the NASA administrator, the advantage may be determined in the next two years.
U.S.-China Space Race
In recent years, China has been closer to catching up with the U.S. in terms of space capabilities, and in that sense, there has been a huge investment of countries with the intention of economic return, strategy, and growth.
A few months ago, China launched its space station into Earth orbit, which has carried out several lunar missions and has collected several samples of the natural satellite. This program seeks to establish an autonomous lunar research station near the south pole of the Moon scheduled for 2025, which has NASA worried that China is on its way to taking over the natural resources available on the Moon.
Just a few months ago, Chinese scientists announced the discovery of a new Moon mineral from lunar rock samples they collected on the Chang’e-5 mission launched in 2020. The scientists mentioned that the material collected and the research carried out are important to allow them to understand the origin and evolution of the Moon, as well as the possibilities of making use of its resources. In addition, the Asian country has also been mapping the regions where there is water.
China currently has about 262 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) satellites in space with similar advantages in science and technology satellites. China’s orbital probes have been directed to the other side of the Moon and to Mars, which would indicate that the two countries are heading for a dispute in space.
For its part, NASA has completed the 26-day Artemis I mission where they managed to take images of the Moon’s surface. The United States has more missions designed to establish more activity on the Moon and Mars.
China Would Claim the Moon as its Territory
It is because of all this work that U.S. commanders have also sounded the alarm over China’s work in space and the security problems this would bring as China is likely to catch up with and even surpass the U.S., due to the rapid progress it has made in such a short time.
“We had better watch out that they don’t get to a place on the Moon under the guise of scientific research. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they’ll say ‘Stay away, we’re here, it’s our territory,’” said Bill Nelson, NASA administrator.
However, Beijing has rejected some of the U.S. interrelations of the motives behind China’s space push. “Outer space is not a fighting field,” said politician Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.
Likewise, Liu Pengyu also claimed that some U.S. officials have spoken irresponsibly to misrepresent China’s normal and legitimate space efforts. “China always advocates the peaceful use of outer space, and actively works to build a community with a shared future for mankind in the space field,” Pengyu added.
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera