Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said the next logical step in space exploration would be a permanent base on the Moon.
He speaked following China’s successful mission to soft land a rover probe on the Moon’s surface.
Commander Hadfield found fame after posting videos of himself singing and tweeting about his experiences on the International Space Station.
And he has now claimed astronauts could be living on the Moon in 20 years or more if space nations work together.
The former head of the ISS said: “I hope we’re seeing the start of a new space co-operation. India has sent a probe to Mars. Other nations have sent probes to other planets.”
“The logical way is together. I hope it’s not just a race that will cross some finish line and stop.”
Commander Hadfield praised China’s mission as a “great step forward”, adding it was “extremely complex and demanding to land something on the Moon”.
On Saturday, China carried out the first successful soft landing there for nearly 40 years and is only the third nation to do so after the US and former Soviet Union. The last one was by the USSR in 1976.
The 140kg (300lb) “Jade Rabbit” rover separated from its much larger landing vehicle early on Sunday, around seven hours after the unmanned Chang’e 3 space probe touched down.
The six-wheeled rover will survey the Moon’s geological structure and surface and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will carry out scientific explorations at the landing site for a year.
“It’s a demonstration of the increased capability of China” and if Beijing can team up with other countries then the “next logical step” would be a permanent base on the Moon, he went on.