BEIJING, Cn. – The Chinese military may have used an electromagnetic rail gun to shoot down a U.S. satellite that had been orbiting the moon since 2009, an American defense official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter -otherwise known as LRO, was the only known satellite orbiting the moon until Beijing ordered it shot down on the grounds that it was “in violation of China’s sovereignty.” The communist country on Saturday declared the Moon’s southern hemisphere to be Chinese territory and threatened military action against any country suspected of penetrating its borders.
Chinese president Xi Jinping said his country’s space agency is working with the military to establish a joint operating base with North Korea in the central region of the Moon’s southern hemisphere. The forward operating base will likely be located some twenty-six kilometers south of a massive crater known as Tycho. “China reserves the right to defend itself against enemies both interplanetary and domestic,” President Xi said.
The White House has, thus far, kept quiet on the lunar issue but the USS Curtis Wilbur, an American guided-missile destroyer, reportedly sailed within twelve nautical miles of an island in the South China Sea last weekend. “The American warship has violated relevant Chinese laws by entering Chinese territorial waters without prior permission,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that China has increased its surveillance of the area.
The South China Sea serves as a major international shipping route and has been the source of an international border dispute involving China, the Philippines, Taiwan and the United States. China seeks to limit navigation of the waters, which the United States and its allies view as vital to international trade.