Bill Nelson thinks China's moon ambitions are a military program. The NASA boss also complains about technology theft - and worries that the Chinese could "occupy" the moon.
NASA boss Bill Nelson has warned about the Chinese space program. "We have to be very concerned that China lands on the moon and says: This is ours now and you stay out," he told the "Bild" newspaper, adding: "China's space program is a military space program. " Unlike the American "Artemis" program, the Chinese are not willing to share their research results and use the moon together. "There's a new race to space - this time with China."
China is working on putting its own astronauts on the moon. The People's Republic has landed on the surface of the moon several times with research robots and has also successfully returned moon rocks to earth. In the 2030s, according to reports from the Chinese state media, a permanent station is to be built on the moon in a further step. The research station could therefore be set up and operated jointly with Russia.
Asked what military purposes China might have in space, Nelson told the newspaper, "Well, what do you think is happening on the Chinese space station? They're learning how to destroy other people's satellites." In addition, Nelson also lamented China's technology theft: "China is good. But China is also good because they steal other people's ideas and technologies."
With the "Artemis" program, the US space agency wants to bring US astronauts, including for the first time a woman and a non-white person, back to the moon - at the earliest in 2025. A rover should then come with them. In addition, outposts are to be built on the moon and in its orbit.
The last time a US astronaut walked on the moon was almost exactly 50 years ago. Between 1969 and 1972, the USA was the only country to bring a total of twelve astronauts to the moon with the "Apollo" missions. Beijing wants to play in a league with the USA in space. The construction of the first own space station "Tiangong" (Heaven Palace) is therefore pushed ahead with speed. The People's Republic has invested billions in its space program and has already had some successes. China was the first country to land a spacecraft and exploration rover on the dark side of the moon.