China’s mystery space launch sparks panic as expert warns ‘everyone should be concerned’

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Earlier this month, Beijing launched a spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northern China and it returned back to Earth after two days in orbit. Little is known about the launch except it may have been testing a reusable spacecraft.

A brief report, published by the Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency, provided a glimpse into the secret space mission.

They wrote: “The successful flight marked the country’s important breakthrough in reusable spacecraft research and is expected to offer convenient and low-cost round-trip transport for the peaceful use of space.”

But now, Professor Ram Jakhu, an expert in international space law, has raised concerns over the recent launch.

Referencing the move from China – and countries around the world increasing activity in space – Professor Jakhu said: “Everyone should be concerned with the militarisation of space.”

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he added: “It has been happening but it is on the first tier now, it is on high-speed tension.

“Everyone is trying to militarise space.

“It is becoming weaponised, countries are testing nuclear weapons.

“Countries are preparing for war in space.

“I think everyone should be concerned about that.”

Professor Jakhu also went on to claim how in space terms, the word “peaceful does not mean non-military”.

He claimed: “We should be keeping in mind, the word peaceful does not mean non-military.

“In common parlour, peaceful is not military. But in the space context, peaceful includes military operations.

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“That has been the American view from day one.

“When we talk about peaceful use of space, we include military use of space.

“When China said their spacecraft will be used for peaceful use, it could also be used for military use, that is the definition.

“The distinction between peaceful and military is not clear.”

According to the South China Morning Post, staff and visitors at the launch site were told not to film or discuss it online.

Although there was no official announcement prior to the launch, it has been widely reported that China was working on such technology for years.

Despite the secretiveness of the mission, Professor Jakhu admitted he was not surprised about China’s lack of information.

He added: “The reality is, not everything is made public.

“All countries have secrets but some are more secretive than others.

“To me, it is not that surprising. China is just doing what others have done.”

With fears over the militarisation of space – The Outer Space Treaty – formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and other Celestial bodies – forms the basis of international space law.

It prohibits the placing of nuclear weapons in space and limits the use of the Moon and all other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes only.

However, it does not ban military activities in space, military space forces or the weaponisation of space, with the exception of the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space.

The treaty was opened for signature in the US, the UK and former Soviet Union in 1967 and entered into force in the same year.

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