The race between NASA and China to build the first lunar base intensified after NASA Administrator Bill Nelson claimed that China might try to take control of the moon.
The competition between NASA and China is intensifying because the prize is the Moon. NASA and China have found themselves at odds over various missions. Recently China’s plan to send a spacecraft to an asteroid was reportedly deflected as a planetary defense system. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is chasing after the NASA DART mission, which aims to do the same. China also became the first country to land on the far side of the moon in 2019, something NASA is also aiming to do. But now, the race is on to build the first lunar base and if NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is to be believed, if China wins it, it could take over Earth’s only natural satellite.
Speaking to German newspaper Bild, Nelson recently warned the public against China’s ambitions, saying, “We must be very concerned that China is landing on the moon and saying it’s ours now and you stay out”. China also hit back, hitting back by saying the NASA administrator was “lying through his teeth.” But as the war of words continues, both space agencies want to establish their dominance over each other by building the first research base on the lunar surface.
NASA is concerned that China may control the entire moon
China has accelerated its goal of building a research base on the Moon within eight years after collaborating with Russia. Although NASA sees this as a threat, experts disagree with the possibility of China establishing control over the entire moon. Prof. Svetla Ben-Itzhak and R. Lincoln Hines wrote in The Conversation that no country has the power to simply control the entire moon. “It is not only illegal, it is also technically terrifying – the cost of such an endeavor would be extremely high, while the potential payoff would be uncertain”, they added.
Moreover, China also signed an international agreement with 133 other countries in 1967 which states that outer space, including the Moon, is not subject to national rights claiming sovereignty in any way. But if not the entire moon, China could take control of strategically important craters on the moon that could be important for establishing a base and sustaining life.
But even experts are not convinced about this. They said, “With an area of about 14.6 million square miles (39 million square kilometers) – or about five times the size of Australia – any control of the Moon would be temporary and localized. The protection and control of strategic lunar areas would require substantial financial investment and long-term efforts. And No country can do this without everyone noticing”.
Whether the experts are right about this or whether NASA’s concerns are more valid will be revealed in due course.