China has hit back at top NASA officials after they claimed the east Asian country had plans to take over the moon.
The American space agency’s chief Bill Nelson had warned the world they should be “very concerned” at the prospect of the Chinese military claiming the planet as their own.
He told German newspaper Bild in an explosive statement: “What do you think is happening on the Chinese space station?
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“They are learning how to destroy other people’s satellites. There is a new space race, this time with China.
“We must be very concerned that China is landing on the moon and saying, ‘It’s ours now and you stay out.”
But a rattled Beijing quickly hit back at the “smear campaign”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian rubbished the claims – despite his country allegedly stealing other scientists’ work and aiming to land a crew on the moon this decade.
A defiant Lijian told NASA boffins they had “ignored the facts and spoken irresponsibly about China”.
He added: “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.”
The statement also vowed to promote a shared future for humans in deep space and said the huge communist state is against weaponization and any arms race.
It comes as NASA pump eye-watering amounts of money into new schemes to explore beyond planet Earth.
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A recent project saw them fire a microwave-sized satellite to space so they can analyse a unique deep space orbit.
Space experts said it could lead to the creation of an international space station from which lunar astronauts could explore the moon’s south pole in the coming years.
But excitement surrounding the CAPSTONE project quickly come crashing down with the news that boffins could no longer communicate with their tech.
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