The US wants to send astronauts to the moon again, but it’s not alone.
Speaking to Bild, Nasa chief Bill Nelson warns that “there is a new space race – this time with China”.
Nasa’s first astronauts are set to travel to the moon in 2025 – including a woman for the first time.
But Beijing’s plans already go further: China is planning its own moon base – along with Russia.
It should be ready in 2035. If successful, “taikonauts” – as Chinese astronauts are called – could conduct experiments on the moon from 2036.
Nasa chief Nelson is not comfortable with this. “We have to be very worried about China landing on the moon and saying, it’s ours now, and stay out.”
The south pole of the moon in particular is strongly contested: there are suspicions that there are water deposits there that could in the future be used to produce rocket fuel.
This means that whoever controls the south side of the moon has a major base in space. And possibly strength.
For Bill Nelson, in any case, it is clear: “China’s space program is a military space program.” He himself was an astronaut in space before entering politics.
As a typically soft-spoken politician, Nelson is very straightforward. He criticizes the theft of technology that allowed China to join the space race: “China is good. But China is also good because it steals ideas and technologies from others.”
What military goals might China pursue in space?
Nelson asks BILD: “So what do you think is going on in the Chinese space station? That’s where they learn how to destroy other people’s satellites.”
In fact, China has been researching technologies for years to “grab” satellites with robotic arms or nets and crash them: Ostensibly to get rid of its own space junk, but in reality it could also be used to attack to satellites of foreign countries.
What is Nasa planning on the moon?
With the Artemis programme, Nasa plans to return to the moon in close cooperation with the European space agency Esa.
-This summer, the first Orion space capsule will fly to the moon, putting it into orbit. Orion, half of which was built in Germany, will be unmanned.
-Nasa astronauts will be on board for the 2nd orbit around the moon in 2023.
-The third flight in 2025 will bring two people to the moon: a woman and an astronaut of color.
The other plans: building a gateway station in lunar orbit, a village, a launch pad on Mars.