LAS LAJAS, Argentina – When China built a military-run space station in Argentina’s Patagonian region it promised to include a visitors’ center to explain the purpose of its powerful 16-story antenna.
The center is now built – behind the 8-foot barbed wire fence that surrounds the entire space station compound. Visits are by appointment only.
Shrouded in secrecy, the compound has stirred unease among local residents, fueled conspiracy theories and sparked concerns in the Trump administration about its true purpose, according to interviews with dozens of residents, current and former Argentine government officials, U.S. officials, satellite and astronomy specialists and legal experts.
The station’s stated aim is peaceful space observation and exploration and, according to Chinese media, it played a key role in China’s landing of a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon in January.
But the remote 200-hectare compound operates with little oversight by the Argentine authorities, according to hundreds of pages of Argentine government documents obtained by Reuters and reviewed by international law experts. (For an interactive version of this story: https://tmsnrt.rs/2TlXEMj)
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