China Wants To Put CCTV On The Moon To Keep Eyes On Its Future Lunar Base

Estimated read time 2 min read

Never one to take a relaxed approach to surveillance, China is reportedly looking into ways to install an extensive network of sensors and cameras to monitor their future base on the moon.

The International Lunar Research Station is a planned lunar base proposed in 2021 by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Roscomos, the Russian space agency. Over the next few decades, the base aims to be a fully operational station on the lunar surface built for scientific research, with the ultimate aim of establishing a permanent human presence on the moon. 

Several other countries have since expressed serious interest in collaborating with the project, including Venezuela, South Africa, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Pakistan.

This prime piece of real estate will require some degree of protection, especially when international relations back home on planet Earth are becoming increasingly frosty. 

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), scientists at CNSA, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and Zhejiang University have recently outlined a plan to constantly survey the International Lunar Research Station using hundreds of cameras. 

Per their report, small 100-gram (3.5-ounce) cameras will be equipped with AI-driven chips “capable of identifying, locating, tracking and aiming at suspicious targets independently”. If any “abnormalities” are detected, the system is prepped to “promptly generate alarm signals and initiate appropriate response measures”.

The system has been dubbed Skynet 2.0, alluding to the mass surveillance network that keeps a close eye on Earth-bound China. Figures vary, but it’s estimated that China is outfitted with hundreds of millions of CCTV cameras, a growing number of which are capable of face recognition. 

The CNSA is reportedly looking at this techno-authoritarian model to inspire their surveillance of the International Lunar Research Station.

“The construction and operation of the optical surveillance system for the (International) Lunar Research Station can draw on the successful experience… of China’s Skynet project,” reads a paper published in the Chinese academic journal Acta Optica Sinica, according to the SCMP. 

It’s not hyperbole to say we are already living in the age of space espionage. Recent years have seen a surge in reconnaissance satellites keeping tabs on foreign adversaries on Earth, while space companies are set to become an increasingly common target for foreign cyberattacks.

Even as humanity is making steps toward colonizing other parts of the Solar System, it seems that grievances and suspicion from the home planet still live strong.