Washington/Beijing: Two weeks ago, US President Donald Trump announced the Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6). Accordingly, the US has granted NASA permission to erect a nuclear reactor on the moon to provide impetus to space missions. The US Department of Energy will be assisting NASA in the program due for completion in 2026. However, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece, The Global Times has severely criticised the program calling it President Trump’s plan to make the moon a centre for nuclear weapons development.
On December 16, President Trump announced the SPD-6 policy, which is crucial for space research. The SPD-6 charts out a strategy for effective use of Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SNPP) systems. Therefore, NASA will be working on running future space missions based on space nuclear systems. As alternative energy sources are insufficient, NASA plans to send spacecraft based on atomic energy that has been generated in space for space missions.
Solar energy missions were considered as an alternative to nuclear energy-based space missions. Nevertheless, since making solar energy available in sufficient amounts on the moon was difficult, it was decided that space missions instead be based on nuclear energy, NASA said. The wattage of the nuclear reactor, which will be powering future space flights, has not been determined. Also, various aspects on the subject have surfaced in reports. Moreover, China’s nervousness has grown as President Trump gave NASA a nod to set up a nuclear reactor on the moon.
In an interview with The Global Times, military analyst Song Zhongping alleged that the US had military intentions behind setting up the moon’s nuclear reactor. The US will also be making operational a uranium enrichment facility after a nuclear reactor is established on the moon. Song went on to accuse the US by saying that uranium enrichment was equivalent to making the moon a centre for developing nuclear weapons. At the same time, he noted that Helium-3 was present on the moon in significant amounts.
Song said, ‘The element Helium-3 is used in the process of nuclear fusion as fuel to generate energy. Therefore, the US may build a centre for developing nuclear weapons under the guise of setting up a nuclear reactor.’ Also, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University, alleged the SPD-6 announcement was meant to demonstrate US’ space superiority. Haidong criticised the policy and said if the US carries out nuclear tests on the moon, it will become dangerous.
Haidong had even opposed the Artemis deal, signed with US President Donald Trump’s initiative earlier in October. The agreement signed by eight nations, which includes the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Italy and the UAE, aims to protect space interests. Nevertheless, Artemis deal will support the US for establishing a base on the moon, which is a violation of international laws,’ Haidong accused.