China could claim territory on the moon if it wins ‘space race’, Nasa chief warns
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NASA's highest-ranking official has warned that there's a new space race on the cards, and China could win it by taking a chunk of the moon as territory.
Last time there was a space race humanity went from sending missiles and satellites into orbit to sending humans into space and putting a man on the moon.
While it was a giant willy-waving contest between the US and the Soviet Union it did also produce plenty of advancements in technology and resulted in the fact that just a few decades after figuring out planes we frickin' landed on the moon actual moon and got everyone home safe and sound.
However, for all the advancements and major achievements it brought the space race was a competition between two superpowers vying for dominance.
If there's another space race in the works it's likely to follow the same lines, only this time, according to the highest-ranking official in NASA, the US will be going up against China.
Speaking in an interview with Politico, NASA chief and former astronaut Bill Nelson warned that another space race was on the cards and the US could lose it to China if it isn't careful.
He said: "It is a fact: we're in a space race.
"And it is true that we better watch out that they don't get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research.
"And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say, 'Keep out, we're here, this is our territory.'"
He cited the example of the South China Sea, where China has claimed much of the area by building bases on the islands and whether it's theirs or not it's hard to shift them now they've built up a presence.
Nelson warned that it would be much easier for China to claim a chunk of the moon's surface as territory if it's able to successfully establish a base on its surface.
If the next space race represents attempts to establish bases on the moon then it's both a giant leap for mankind and retracing some of our old steps.
The last time someone was on the moon was over 50 years ago, with the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 representing the final time human feet walked on the moon's surface.
It would also be something that NASA itself has been preparing for, with a $57 million (£47 million) contract awarded by it to build habitats and roads on the moon's surface.
The contract was awarded to US company ICON so it can 'develop construction technologies' and possibly figure out how to erect a permanent structure on the moon.
If the biggest event of the first space race was to get someone up there, the objective of the next one seems to be working out how to stay for an indefinite period of time.
Both China and the US are signed up to the Outer Space Treaty, which bans nations from claiming territory on moons or other planets besides Earth.