The United States military is researching new technology in order to construct massive structures on the moon’s surface. It is working on a spy satellite that will orbit the moon.
It has also just disclosed plans for a monitoring network — dubbed “highway patrolling” — for the enormous cislunar area between Earth’s orbit and the moon.
However, top military planners and papers increasingly refer to this region as a new dimension of operation.
Are You a Fan of Science Fiction?
The money is now also starting to come in. The military will receive $61 million in the government expenditure plan passed by Congress this week to explore programs in cislunar space.
Space Force Col. Eric Felt, chairman of the Air Force Experimental Laboratory’s Space Systems Directorate at Kirtland Airbase in New Mexico, stated, “That’s basically the first substantial chunk of money that we’re spending towards this.”
The Pentagon claims these new initiatives are largely intended to assist secure a developing private space industry and protect civilian pilots.
Between now and 2030, the newest branch predicts nation-states and commercial entities will launch approximately 100 crewed and uncrewed moon missions.
However, space-critical security specialists are concerned the military could outperform NASA in space exploration, turning a primarily peaceful rivalry into a military one.
According to Aaron Boley, co-director of the University of British Columbia’s Outer Space Initiative, the Pentagon already has a large presence in Earth orbit, where satellites are utilized to assist combat actions and world security.
However, some top military strategists argue the space competition is simply too important to be left to citizens and the Pentagon will be forced to play a larger role.
As Always, China is Right There
China’s space program has made tremendous progress in its moon development plan, with the first spacecraft settling on the south pole in 2019.
It also intends at least three more robotic trips to create a lunar outpost, starting in 2024, with taikonaut flights to follow.
Proponents of a more powerful US military say they are concerned China cannot be entrusted to follow exclusively peaceful goals; it may exploit its space program for military and economic gain, including a new alliance with Russia to create a moon base.
“Power despises a vacuum,” said Peter Garretson, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel and aerospace specialist, who is now a senior researcher at the American Foreign Policy Center.
“You can anticipate other actors to act in ways that benefit their own interests at the expense of others.”
“I think we all expect that NASA can rise to the occasion and resume its usual exploration role,” he continued.
“However, with funding and schedules slipping, I believe there is some anxiety about whether NASA is pulling back its efforts and will be able to meet the challenge.”