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US Military Commander Worries China Could Launch Attack From Moon

Loony Landing

As the lunar space race heats up, the United States is growing increasingly concerned about its chief adversary using the Moon to launch attacks.

As the military website Defense One reports, Space Force's Anthony Mastalir, a brigadier general who commands the off-planet security force's Indo-Pacific section, seemed worried that China might not honor the decades-old space treaty that requires all countries to use space only to benefit all humankind.

"From a military perspective," Mastalir pondered, "I am curious about, are there attack vectors that we haven't considered or that we need to consider?"

He went on to refer to two main areas of concern: beyond geostationary orbit or "xGEO," which is an area of space past where conventional satellites operate, and cislunar space, which is the space between Earth and the Moon. Given how many satellites the US military and countless other public and private entities have floating outside the atmosphere, it's legitimate to be worried that someone might attack them.

Who's the Baddie?

Indeed, the brigadier general said that because Space Force is committed to "deterring a terrestrial bad actor," it needs to focus on whether Earth-bound conflicts could not only leave our atmosphere, but also be focused on harming targets on Earth or in our planet's orbit.

"These are terrestrial conflicts that we hope we can deter and we also don't want them, although it's more and more likely, [to] extend into space or even start in space, but they’re terrestrial conflicts," Mastalir continued during his address at a conference hosted by the Aerospace Corporation earlier in the week, per Defense One. "Someday in the future that may change, but for now, I'd be more concerned just about what these new orbits, a Moon presence — what that does for potential attack vectors to our traditional operating orbits."

Although he's far from alone in his concerns about China's lunar ambitions, which have ramped up alongside the United States' own plans to return to the Moon within the next few years with NASA's Artemis mission, this particular set of worries seems to be distinct to the military-aerospace conjunction that Space Force was created to address.

China, to its end, has denied American claims that it's looking to use the Moon for anything nefarious. As Bloomberg reported last month, a Chinese defense official accused the US of "using so-called threats from other nations as an excuse to expand its own military power" during a press conference responding to the charges.

There's clearly no love lost between the two terse adversaries-cum-allies when it comes to the Moon and the military — but they'll have to work together, or at least around each other, if both intend to build lunar bases.

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