Since the December 1st Chinese launch of their rover to the moon, some people are becoming quite creative with China’s intentions with the moon. The latest gossip, presented in this Daily Mail post, is apparently based on a comment from an “expert” working in the China National Space Program Lunar Exploration Center. This expert is reportedly saying the Moon would make a great lunar base, from which you could base missiles and test weapons.
The Chinese lunar base could possibly be established by 2050. You can read more specifics about that from WantChinaTimes.com, here. Of course, the Death Star comparison was made, which is fine and dandy until the expert and article mentions ballistic missiles. The Death Star used an energy beam to destroy planets, not missiles to destroy specific targets on a planet!! Someone just read the wiki, I suppose.
But, and I am not saying I know better, isn’t there a more efficient way to destroy targets on Earth from the Moon? Just reading these articles reminded me of a book, written by Robert Heinlein: “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” In it, rebels take over lunar colonies and use a modern-day catapult (sort of a rail-gun) to launch large moon rocks (boulders) at targets on Earth. Boulders tend to maybe make a bigger impression than a small missile (of course someone has done work on that sort of thing, here). And the Chinese wouldn’t have to transport missiles up to the Moon, so there’s energy and money savings there.
This sort of thing might be more Chinese “irrational exuberance” for space, than anything else. They’re excited they have a rover going to the moon. And they should be, it’s a good step.
But, there is also the small matter of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. In particular, Article II, which explicitly lays out that no nation will be sovereign over the moon (among other space objects). And guess which one of several nations signed on to that treaty?
I’m not saying it’s not possible for China to put a military base on the moon–it’s just unlikely. They could totally ignore the treaty (after all, who really would try to stop them?), but then they would be isolating themselves from the rest of the world for a little while. I can’t think of any other nation that has unilaterally ignored rules for their own gain…|-*