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Nasa chief warns of Chinese land grab on the Moon

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The top of Nasa has warned that China may try and claim territory on the Moon if it beats the US to establishing everlasting bases on the lunar surface.

Bill Nelson, who took over the US space agency in 2021, said the US is in a latest space race with China and that geopolitical tensions between the 2 countries on Earth could extend to the Moon.

“It’s a fact, we’re in an area race,” Mr Nelson told Politico.

“And it’s true that we higher be careful that they don’t get to a spot on the Moon under the guise of scientific research. And it is just not beyond the realm of possibility that they are saying, ‘Keep out, we’re here, that is our territory’.”

Former International Space Station (ISS) commander Terry Virts also voiced his concern, citing “potential mischief” on the a part of China.

The comments follow a recent report from the US Department of Defense detailing the present state of China’s space programme, including its ability to develop spacecraft able to landing on the far side of the Moon.

The 196-page report, published in November, also predicted the intentions of President Xi Jinping, in addition to the potential for a second space race.

“Beijing’s goal is to turn out to be a broad-based, fully capable space power. Its rapidly growing space program – second only to the USA within the variety of operational satellites – is a source of national pride and a part of Chairman Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ to ascertain a strong and prosperous China,” the report stated.

“China is developing other sophisticated space-based capabilities, resembling satellite inspection and repair. No less than a few of these capabilities could also function as a weapon.”

The rocket carrying Chinas second module for its Tiangong space station lifts off from Wenchang spaceport in southern China on 24 July, 2022

(Getty Images)

China has consistently denied concerns about its motives.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said: ““Some US officials have spoken irresponsibly to misrepresent the conventional and bonafide space endeavours of China… China at all times advocates the peaceful use of outer space, opposes the weaponization of and arms race in outer space, and works actively toward constructing a community with a shared future for mankind within the space domain.”

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