How long would it take an attack from the Moon to reach Earth?

It was supposedly just a space race, with the United States, China and Russia trying to get their foot back there, but it has morphed into one where everyone is starting to worry that Your opponent uses the Moon to launch attacks.

According to a recent interview, Anthony Mastalir, Brigadier General who commands the Indo-Pacific section of the off-planet security force, has signaled concern that China could fail to comply with decades-old space treaty which requires all countries to use space solely for the benefit of humanity.

“From a military perspective,” Mastalir noted, “I'm curious: are there attack vectors that we haven't considered or should consider? There are two main areas of concern: beyond geostationary orbit or xGEO, which is an area of ​​space where conventional satellites operate, and cislunar space, which is the space between the Earth and the Moon. The Space Force is committed to deterring a bad terrestrial actor and needs to focus on whether terrestrial conflicts could not only leave our atmosphere, but also focus on damaging targets on Earth.”

China, for its part, has denied US claims that he is seeking to use the Moon for military purposes. Weeks ago a Chinese defense official accused the United States of “using so-called threats from other nations as an excuse to expand its own military power.”

“These are ground conflicts that we hope to be able to, although it is increasingly likely that they will extend into space or even start in space, but they are ground conflicts,” adds Mastalir.

That What would happen if some power attacked the Earth from the Moon? According to the Washington Times, China plans to “use its ASAT missiles to deter attacks on its own satellites.” ASATs are the acronym for anti-satellite weapons (anti satellite activities) and these or laser weapons could be used.

The latter have the “advantage” that they would travel at the speed of light… And a laser weapon It would take 1.3 seconds to reach our planet. Luckily, these types of weapons lose their power with distance and, upon reaching Earth, they would be of no use.

The ASAT option is much slower: the ASM-135 ASAT missile, for example, has a speed of 24,000 km/h. Which means it would take about 16 hours to reach Earth. Fortunately, missiles with greater autonomy today, They barely reach 16,000 km. away, about 24 times less than the distance that separates us from the Moon. So there would be no problem…

Well, not so much: if the missile escapes Lunar gravity and gets close enough, it could take advantage of Earth's gravity and simply “fall” on our planet. And ASAT missiles like the one mentioned above triple the escape speed of the Moon. Technically, it would be possible, but it should not burn all the fuel in a single stage and use it to escape from the Moon and then to direct it to the desired point on our planet. Something that would give us a little more time.