The United States was the first country to put a human on the Moon with the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Now, as the United States aims to return astronauts to the Moon by 2025, it faces a major competitor: China — along with a new. Element. Also, NASA chief Bill Nelson warns that if he’s on the moon, he can claim the moon as his own.
After the successful Artemis I mission, NASA chief Bill Nelson warned of China’s ambitions on the moon
The 26-day Artemis I mission to the Moon in November 2022 marked the beginning of a new chapter in NASA’s space program. Experts view the mission as a great success. It featured an unmanned Orion space capsule that circled the Moon. The mission was an important step in achieving the goal of returning American astronauts to the lunar surface — and “building a more permanent presence,” as detailed in.
while other regions are internationally recognized territories of other countries.
China has antagonized many countries in the region over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. This includes the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. In a landmark ruling in 2016, the International Tribunal Court in The Hague issued a ruling against China. The ruling stated that there was no evidence to support the country’s historically exclusive claim to the waterway.
It ignored this provision and continued to expand into the South China Sea. This includes building military bases in the disputed Spratly Islands. “If you doubt [China claiming the moon]Look what they’ve done to the Spratly Islands,” Nelson said.
China has made great strides in its space programme
Concern about China’s lunar ambitions also stems from the country’s significant progress in its space programme. This is not only a concern for NASA but also the US Department of Defense. The Department of Defense already has growing concerns about the ability of the Chinese space system to harm American satellites, and now moon missions are becoming a major concern as well.
The Pentagon recently sent a report to Congress highlighting significant progress in the Chinese space program. This includes “a pioneering ability to land on the far side of the Moon.” There is also an innovative Earth-Moon communications relay using a satellite launched a year ago. In addition, the report details how China has improved its “capacity to manufacture space launch systems for human exploration in space.”
In addition, over the past few years, the Chinese space program has sent landers and spacecraft to collect samples from the lunar surface. It was the first country to do so on the far side of the moon. Also, China recently opened a new space station.
U.S. Space Force Lieutenant General Nina Armagno said, “It’s entirely possible that they could catch up and overtake us, for sure. The progress they’ve made has been amazing—amazingly fast.”
Moreover, the Chinese government has declared a goal of landing “astronauts” on the surface of the Moon by “the end of this decade.” Also, last month, it revealed ambitious plans for its lunar missions, including creating a space management system and building infrastructure in space.
The Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations states that no country can claim any land on the moon
For what it’s worth, there is an international treaty that addresses any possible territorial claims China could make on the Moon. It is the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty, created in 1967 at the height of the Cold War. It was designed to prevent the United States, the Soviet Union, and other nations from colonizing space and establishing a nuclear weapons base, all in all.
The Outer Space Treaty contains many rules governing space exploration. One of these rules is that no country can claim any land in space, including the Moon. Basically, outer space is treated like international waters. Like international waters, countries can travel freely in space, but they cannot claim any part of it as their own.
However, as China has shown with its expansion in the South China Sea, international law has not prevented it from claiming its territory as its own. Moreover, the country has a long list of human rights violations that violate international law.
This includes its continued suppression of religious and cultural freedoms in Tibet. China invaded Tibet in 1950, killing over a million Tibetans – 20% of the country’s population at the time. The Chinese army also destroyed most of the more than 6,000 Buddhist temples in the country.
Other human rights abuses include accusations of genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, with a million or more people imprisoned in state-sponsored “re-education camps”. Additional concerns include a possible invasion of Taiwan and suppression of democracy in Hong Kong. The Chinese government’s support for Russia’s illegal invasion is also a red flag.
Nelson believes the United States will win the space race against China to the moon — but warns against delay
While NASA chief Nelson warns of China’s lunar ambitions, he believes the United States will eventually win the space race to the moon. With the successful Artemis I mission, the United States is on track to return humans to the lunar surface by 2025.
However, Nelson cautions against any delay, with “little time to lose.” The US is already one year behind its original target date of 2024. Also, while Congress recently approved the fiscal year 2023 budget for NASA, it’s less than what the space agency has requested.
However, Nelson said the budget still includes “major components for the next two lunar missions, Artemis II and Artemis III.” The Artemis II mission, scheduled for the end of 2024, will send a crew into lunar orbit. Following Artemis II, the flagship Artemis III mission aims to land astronauts on the moon by the end of 2025.
However, there is a possibility of delays. A successful schedule depends primarily on two things, according to Nelson: “Spacesuits, are they ready? And is SpaceX ready?” NASA’s moon missions use rockets from SpaceX.
NASA veterans have also expressed concerns about China’s lunar ambitions. This includes Terry Werts, former commander of the space shuttle and the International Space Station. He said, “There’s probably harm China could do on the Moon. If they set up the infrastructure there, they’ll probably turn down communications, for example. Being there doesn’t make things any easier. There’s a real concern about Chinese interference.”
When asked directly by Politico if he thought the United States would return astronauts to the lunar surface before China, NASA chief Nelson replied, “God willing.”