Much of the attention around competition in space exploration has focused on the private sector, as Space X, Blue Origin and many more companies vie to develop more powerful rockets and train their eyes on lunar and martian missions.

But the good old fashioned state rivalry for the conquest of the heavens that characterised the 20th Century hasn’t gone away. Once the Soviet Union dominated US fears about expansionism in space. Now, China is emerging as the key challenger. Recently, NASA’s Administrator, Bill Nelson, even warned that China could claim ownership over the Moon and stop other countries from exploring it. That is unlikely, according to these academics who specialise in the study of space and international relations.

China, though, is investing heavily in space. In 2021, it led the US in the number of orbital launches. Expect the competition, and the tension, to continue.

Stephen Khan

Executive Editor, The Conversation International

China and the U.S. both have big plans for the Moon, but there are a number of reasons why no country could actually claim ownership of any land there. 3dScultor/iStock via Getty Images

NASA’s head warned that China may try to claim the Moon – two space scholars explain why that’s unlikely to happen

Svetla Ben-Itzhak, Air University; R. Lincoln Hines, Air University

A comment by Bill Nelson, the NASA administrator, sparked a strong public response from the Chinese government. But due to legal and practical reasons, no country could take over the Moon anytime soon.

In the 1920s and 1930s there were a number of attacks on prime ministers, sometimes after they left office. Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo/Alamy

Shinzo Abe’s killing: the history of political violence in Japan

Hugo Dobson, University of Sheffield; Kristian Magnus Hauken, University of Sheffield

Shinzo Abe’s murder is the latest political attack in Japan, a country which has strict gun laws.

Greater gliders are hurtling towards extinction, and the blame lies squarely with Australian governments

Darcy Watchorn, Deakin University; Luke Emerson, Deakin University

Greater gliders are fluffy, cat-sized possums with large ears. State governments have failed them at every turn, and continue to raze their habitat.

It’s not nostalgia. Stranger Things is fuelling a pseudo-nostalgia of the 1980s

Tom van Laer, University of Sydney; Davide Christian Orazi, Monash University

Mullets, perms and neon clothes are all back – but Gen Z can’t be nostalgic for an era they never experienced.