NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has warned that China could claim resource-rich regions of the moon as its own as the country intends to gain economic benefits through space exploration, the Indo-Pacific Center for Strategic Communications (IPCSC) reported.
According to the IPCSC report, China’s efforts to use its space program to transform itself into a military, economic, and technological power will soon reshape the world order. China in 2020, announced its plans to establish an economic zone with an output value of USD 10 trillion.
Nelson in an interview with Politico on January 1, said he was concerned that China would build scientific research facilities in a desirable area on the moon and then claim sovereignty over it.
China, last year, built a space station orbiting the Earth and performed several missions around the moon to extract samples. Beijing also plans to build an autonomous lunar research station near the moon’s south pole, which is expected to begin in 2025, IPCSC reported.
China for economic gain and strategic reasons is trying to win the space war. Nina Armagno, Chief of Staff of the US Space Force, on November 27, 2022, told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute that she was concerned that China would catch up and overtake the US and possibly militarise space.
According to Armagno, China is developing military space technologies such as satellite communications and reusable spacecraft, such as China’s Long March 8R, and Long March 9, as well as suborbital and orbital spacecraft.
According to IPCSC, Wu Yansheng, Chairman of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), on December 20, outlined China’s space development goals, including manned moon landings, the establishment of space transportation infrastructure, and the provision of on-orbit services. He also revealed Beijing’s vision for space management, space law and the space domain.
China plans to launch more than 200 spacecraft with over 60 space missions in 2023, according to a CASC blue paper released on 16 January. The paper said that the Tianzhou-6 cargo craft, the Shenzhou-16 and the Shenzhou-17 flight missions would take place within the year to improve China’s capability of entering, using and exploring space.
The CASC will comprehensively push forward the fourth phase of lunar exploration and planetary exploration in 2023 and will develop the lunar probe Chang’e-7, Mars probe Tianwen-2, as well as stationary orbit-microwave detection satellite.
The carrier rocket Long March-6C will make its maiden flight in 2023, while the Long March carrier rocket series is expected to exceed 500 launches in aggregate, said the blue paper, according to the IPCSC report.
The report says that while the moon and Mars colonisation is a distant prospect, China and Russia already have “killer satellites” that could destroy US satellites and wreak havoc on ground forces. In order to curb China’s space ambitions, former US President Donald Trump established the Space Force in 2019 as the sixth branch of the US military.