On Monday, China rejected as an irresponsible smear a warning from the chief of NASA that China might “take over” the moon as part of a military programme, saying it has always called for the building of a community of nations in outer space.
On Saturday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told German newspaper Bild “We must be very concerned that China is landing on the moon and saying: ‘It’s ours now and you stay out’,” in an interview published.
The US space agency chief said China’s space programme was a military one and that China had stolen ideas and technology from others.
“The US side has constantly constructed a smear campaign against China’s normal and reasonable outer space endeavours, and China firmly opposes such irresponsible remarks” added Zhao Lijian.
China has stepped up the pace of its space programme in the past decade, with exploration of the moon a focus.
The country made its first lunar un-crewed landing in 2013 and expects to launch rockets powerful enough to send astronauts to the moon towards the end of this decade.
NASA, under its Artemis programme, plans to send a crewed mission to orbit the moon in 2024 and make a crewed landing near the lunar south pole by 2025.
China is planning un-crewed missions to the moon’s south pole some time this decade.