The moon’s water ice and other natural resources can be mined and used by the United States, according to a new executive order signed by President Trump.
The president on Monday signed the executive order, which has been in the works for about a year, titled Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources. The directive stresses that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty allows for the use of space resources on the moon, Mars and elsewhere.
“Outer space is a legally and physically unique domain of human activity and the United States does not view space as a global commons,” the order states.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, accused Trump of creating a basis to take over other planets, adding that it damaged the scope for international cooperation in space, according to Reuters.
“Attempts to expropriate outer space and aggressive plans to actually seize territories of other planets hardly set the countries (on course for) fruitful cooperation,” the Roscosmos statement said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that “any kind of attempt to privatize space in one form or another – and I find it difficult to say now whether this can be seen as an attempt to privatize space – would be unacceptable.”
The view that the moon’s resources are there for the taking has been common among government officials for years. In 2015, Congress passed a law specifically allowing American companies and citizens to use moon and asteroid resources. In addition, the US has not signed on to the 1979 Moon Treaty, which says that non-scientific use of space resources musts be governed by international regulations.
The order also affirms Congress’ intent that Americans should be allowed to engage in commercial exploration, recovery and use of resources in outer space.
“American industry and the industries of like-minded countries will benefit from the establishment of stable international practices by which private citizens, companies and the economy will benefit from expanding the economic sphere of human activity beyond the Earth,” the order states.
Scientists have long believed that future missions to the moon and beyond would yield major discoveries of resources that could be harnessed for energy or other purposes. NASA’s Artemis program aims to land Americans on the moon by 2024.
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