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Friday, December 06, 2013

PLA Military Missile Base on the Moon? Really?

An expert from the China National Space Administration's Lunar Exploration Program Center has allegedly told the Beijing Times that the country is planning on installing a lunar military base by 2050, in a highly unusual and poorly sourced report on the eve of the nation's first lunar landing vehicle making orbit of the moon.

The expert reportedly said the moon base could be used as a "deadly weapon" capable of launching missiles against any target on Earth, Want China Times and The Nation are reporting. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) have played a significant role in the Chinese space effort. However, this is a most unusual report.

Chinese space officials speaking on the record, and from multiple sources, have clearly indicated a peaceful intent for their lunar project. There has been a significant public interest in the geology and mineral wealth on the moon, as opposed to any military design for an offensive strategic missile base.  

China gave an accession to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies on December 30, 1983. Among the provisions of the treaty is a prohibition from placing nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in orbit of Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or to otherwise station them in outer space.  It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications.

There has been no indication that China plans to give notice to withdraw from the landmark international law first adopted in 1967.
However, on June 8, 1959, a group at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) produced for the U.S. Department of the Army a report entitled Project Horizon, A U.S. Army Study for the Establishment of a Lunar Military Outpost. The project proposal states the requirements as: "The lunar outpost is required to develop and protect potential United States interests on the moon; to develop techniques in moon-based surveillance of the earth and space, in communications relay, and in operations on the surface of the moon; to serve as a base for exploration of the moon, for further exploration into space and for military operations on the moon if required; and to support scientific investigations on the moon."

The 1959 Horizon project never progressed past the feasibility stage in an official capacity. Chances are that any similar Chinese project will likely meet the same fate in the 21st century.

1 comment:

Mordanicus said...

I see no strategical benefits of a military moon base. Nuclear submarines provide a suitable capability of targeting every place on Earth with missiles and are much less detectable than a moon base.