As China’s CHANG’E-5 lunar probe approaches the Moon with a view to a landing this week, there are some concerns in the West regarding the potential exploitation of the capability the Chinese mission might reveal.
Although there is no direct evidence that the mission has any other objective than lunar exploration and scientific research, some analysts theorise that unfettered development on the Moon by China could pose a security threat.
The ostensible long-term aim of Chinese lunar ambitions is the creation of an International Lunar Research Station at the satellite’s south pole, which statements indicate could be completed as soon as 2030. Created with international research collaboration in mind, analysts in the US and elsewhere warn that there is a possibility that China could achieve dominance of a new strategic ‘high ground’ on the Moon, with consequent threats from anti-satellite weapon systems stationed there, for example.
MON believes that there is currently no hard evidence to support such allegations, but that defence is an insurance policy – and must take into account a variety of potential emerging threats at an early stage, rather than awaiting a fait accompli. There is no reason to automatically suspect China of nefarious motives: but there is every reason for the spacefaring nations of the world to engage in mutual monitoring and inspection to promote the responsible, peaceful exploitation of the space environment and preserve global security and confidence.