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China and Russia are feared to be plotting to build “cosmic” nukes using vital minerals mined from the moon.
The head of UK Space Command Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey warned Russian and Chinese leaders are quietly pumping “billions” into space exploration and the development of deadly arsenals developed from drilling in space.
He added: “Asteroid mining will be a thing in our lifetime.”
READ MORE: Putin set to invade the moon with £20million rocket heading for the Lunar South Pole
Vice-Marshal Godfrey also warned Beijing was looking at plundering the moon for minerals after a test mission in 2020 discovered a new phosphate mineral named Changesite-(Y) that could be used as fuel for nuclear fusion.
And he said Russia was adept at jamming satellites – a deniable form of attack that could cut off the UK from the outside world and wreak havoc on financial markets.
He issued the security warnings in a joint interview with the head of US Space Command.
General James Dickinson insisted the Pentagon remained confident in its capabilities amid fears the US was falling behind China in the space race.
But he admitted Moscow has anti-satellite missiles able to hit targets orbiting at 17,500 miles per hour, while Beijing has technology that can “grab” and move satellites.
In 2021, Beijing tested a hypersonic missile that circumnavigated the globe through low-orbit space before missing its target by 24 miles.
Defence experts fear the nuclear-capable missile may be able to bypass US air defence systems.
General Dickinson said: “We do have great technologies in the US. Of course we’ve seen the demonstration of hypersonic weapons by other countries, in particular China and Russia.
“That is an area we continue to look at in terms of how we would mitigate that type of threat.”
Russia flaunted its fearsome weapons capability in 2021 when it used an anti-ballistic missile system designed to shield Moscow from nuclear attack to destroy a defunct Soviet satellite known as Cosmos 1408.
The explosion created a debris field that led astronauts on the International Space Station to seek shelter – and still causes problems for commercial companies.
General Dickinson added: “There’s roughly 1,500 pieces of debris we continue to track.”
As part of his ongoing bombardment of Ukraine, Putin has been testing an electronic warfare system called Tobol in Ukraine as part of an attempt to sever Kyiv’s access to Starlink satellites.
Satellites provided by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX have been vital to the war effort and have allowed Ukrainian forces to remain connected to the internet despite Russian hacking attempts.
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