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China hiding military activities in space as civilian programmes, says NASA

The head of NASA has raised concerns about China’s space ambitions, warning that Beijing may be using civilian space programs to conceal military objectives and urging Washington to remain vigilant.

“China has made extraordinary strides, especially in the last ten years, but they are very, very secretive,” NASA chief Bill Nelson said

He highlighted China’s significant advancements in space technology over the past decade but stressed the secrecy surrounding their activities. “We believe that a lot of their so-called civilian space program is a military program,” Nelson stated during his testimony before lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “And I think, in effect, we are in a race.”

Expressing hope that Beijing would prioritize peaceful uses of space, Nelson emphasized China’s lack of demonstrated commitment to this end. His remarks came as he testified before the House Appropriations Committee on NASA’s budget for 2025.

Nelson asserted the importance of the United States landing on the moon before China, as both nations pursued lunar missions. He voiced concerns that if China were to achieve this milestone first, they might assert territorial claims over lunar regions.

Highlighting previous statements, Nelson reiterated the perception of a space race between the US and China, warning of potential claims by China over lunar resources. China’s recent space endeavors include establishing an Earth-orbiting space station and several lunar missions. At the same time, the US plans to return astronauts to the moon in 2026 with its Artemis III mission.

While China aims to send humans to the moon by 2030, Nelson expressed confidence in the United States maintaining its leadership position in space exploration. However, he cautioned against complacency, acknowledging China’s significant investment in space programs and the need for continued vigilance. “I think we just better not let down our guard,” Nelson emphasized.

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