Buzz Aldrin planted the US flag in 1969.
Who is securing areas there now?
Photo: NASA / dpa
The next two years could decide who comes out on top on the moon.
"We are in a space race," ex-astronaut and NASA boss Bill Nelson told the US news magazine "Politico".
The United States would have to "be careful" that China does not gain a foothold there first and claim the lunar resources for itself, warns NASA's top official.
"We'd better be careful that they don't get on the moon under the guise of scientific research," warns Bill Nelson, himself an ex-astronaut.
"It is not unlikely that they will say: 'Stay out, we are here, this is our territory.'" Nelson is concerned about China's actions in the South China Sea, where Beijing has established military bases, thereby underpinning its territorial ambitions there.
"Look at what they did to the Spratly Islands."
Beijing has told »Politico« that it is trying to go into space for reasons of power politics.
"Space is not a battlefield," Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, is quoted there as saying.
The statement continued, "China always upholds the peaceful uses of outer space, opposes armament and arms races in outer space, and actively works to build a community with a shared future for mankind in outer space."
In November, China sent the last part for the »Tiangong« space station (Eng. »Heavenly Palace«) into space.
In December 2020, the »Chang'e 5« space probe landed on the moon, bringing rock from there to Earth for the first time in more than 40 years.
The rover »Jadehase 2« has also been on the moon since the beginning of 2019.
The vehicle is part of the "Chang'e 4" mission, during which a landing on the far side of the moon was successful for the first time ever.
The construction of an autonomous lunar research station near the south pole of the moon is planned for 2025.
In December 2022, the Chinese government presented its vision of a manned moon landing, space transportation, infrastructure and space administration.
China has also announced that it aims to land taikonauts on the moon by the end of this decade.
NASA recently completed the 26-day Artemis I mission, which was designed to capture images of the lunar surface.
The US is also planning missions to Mars.