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On Tuesday, Beijing successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon’s surface in the first mission to retrieve lunar surface samples in 40 years. The country’s National Space Administration said the probe had landed on the near side of the moon.
The Chang’e-5 probe – which is not manned from the province of Hainan – was launched at the end of November.
According to reports, it aims to collect lunar material to aid scientists learnt more about the moon’s origins and the solar system.
However, the new space mission is expected to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the British public after more than £67.8million of UK taxpayers’ money was given to Beijing for development aid, according to Guido Fawkes.
Despite China having the second-largest economy in the world and its own space programme, it was revealed in July £71million of taxpayers’ money was given to the super-rich country in just one year, sparking calls for an inquiry.
Some of this aid money was reportedly used to put Chinese firms in competition with their British counterparts.
The staggering figure was buried in the Department for International Development’s annual report, which was put out in July as MPs went on their summer break.
The report found the £71.6million payment to China was sent via a combination of direct British aid and a share of funding the UK gives to the likes of the United Nations and EU, who then distribute it.
Back in September, the Communist nation sparked global alarm after it launched a spacecraft from the Jiuguan Satellite Launch Centre and returned it back to Earth after two days in orbit.
Little was 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 experts grew concerned over the mysterious space mission, with one issuing a warning that everyone should be concerned with the militarisation of space.
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Professor Ram Jakhu, an expert in international space law, told Express.co.uk: “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”.
According to the South China Morning Post, staff and visitors at the launch site at the time 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 was not surprised about China’s lack of information.
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.
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