The race to the moon between the United States and China is becoming increasingly competitive, and the next two years could determine who wins. According to NASA’s top administrator, Bill Nelson, a Chinese victory could lead to the country claiming ownership of vast swaths of the moon, reported Politico.
The former Florida senator and astronaut told the outlet, “It is a fact: we’re in a space race. And it is true that we better watch out that they don’t get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say, ‘Keep out, we’re here, this is our territory.'”
Mr Nelson cited the example of China’s aggression in the South China Sea, where the Chinese government has routinely asserted sovereignty over territory belonging to other countries. “If you doubt that, look at what they did with the Spratly Islands,” he told Politico.
China’s aggressive space program also includes the recent launch of a new space station. Beijing has stated that it hopes to land its astronauts on the moon by the end of this decade. In December, China’s government outlined its plans for more ambitious projects such as space infrastructure development and the establishment of a space governance system, the outlet stated.
NASA has been working on its Artemis line of lunar missions in the meantime. On December 11, NASA’s Orion spacecraft safely splashed down in the Pacific, bringing an end to the Artemis 1 mission. The mission, which lasted more than 25 days, was designed to get people back to the Moon in a few years.
The unmanned capsule floated down to the sea with the aid of three huge red and white parachutes after tearing through the atmosphere at a speed of 40,000 kilometers per hour, as per NASA footage.
It is to be noted that Chinese investments in space travel and other rocket technology come at a time when three countries- US, Russia and China are all engaged in a race to create hypersonic weapons.