U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that endorses the use of space resources, particularly commercial exploration and use of resources, from celestial bodies such as the Moon and Mars.
The order also calls for bilateral and multilateral arrangements with foreign states in context to the use of space resources through public and private recovery.
The executive order reads, “Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space, consistent with applicable law.” It further states that the U.S. does not consider space as “global commons” and describes it as “legally and physically unique domain” for human activities.
Through the order, the U.S. President makes it clear that the Secretary of State shall object to the use of the Moon Treaty. The order notes that the U.S. never signed the 1979 agreement, which states that all space activities should conform to international law.
Additionally, the order considers the Moon Treaty to be ineffective at promoting “commercial participation” in exploration, scientific discovery and “use of the Moon, Mars, or other celestial bodies.”
With the order, Trump wants to open up space resources to government and commercial organizations, alike. While the order doesn’t mention mining explicitly, it does have a part that advocates the commercial participation in recovery of resources like “water and certain minerals, in outer space”.
The executive order was described to be damaging to international space co-operation by Roscosmos. According to Reuters, the Russian space agency described the move as a way to ‘seize other planets’ stating, “Attempts to expropriate outer space and aggressive plans to actually seize territories of other planets hardly set the countries (on course for) fruitful cooperation.”