The water ice and other lunar resources that will help the United States build a long-term human presence the moon are there for admission, believes the White House.
President Donald Trump signed a regulation today (April 6) laying down US policies for the exploitation of resources outside the world. This policy emphasizes that the current regulatory system – especially that 1967 Space Treaty – enables the use of such resources.
This view has long prevailed in US government circles. For example, the United States, like the other major space nations, has not signed the 1979 lunar treaty, which provides that the non-scientific use of space resources is governed by an international legal framework. And in 201
Connected: The Search for Water on the Moon (Photos)
The new executive regulation makes things even more official, stressing that the United States does not consider space to be “global commons” and sees a clear path to off-earth mining without the need for further international treaty agreements.
The executive regulation, titled “Promoting International Support for the Restoration and Use of Space Resources,” has been underway for about a year, a senior official said today during a conference call with reporters. The order was triggered, at least in part, by a desire to clarify the position of the United States while negotiating with international partners to advance NASA’s workTemis program for the manned exploration of the moon, the official added. (Engagement with international partners remains important, the official said.)
Artemis plans to land two astronauts on the moon in 2024 and build a sustainable human presence on and around Earth’s closest neighbor by 2028. Lunar resources, especially water ice, which is believed to be abundant in the permanently shaded soils of the polar craters, are key to Artemis’ ambitions, NASA officials said.
Incidentally, the moon is not the ultimate goal for these ambitions. Artemis is designed to help NASA and its partners learn how to support long-range astronauts in space. These lessons will be the key to putting boots on Mars, what NASA wants to do in the 2030s.
“As America prepares to return people to the moon and travel to Mars, this executive regulation sets out US policy for the recovery and use of space resources, such as water and certain minerals, to promote commercial development in space,” said Scott Pace, Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the U.S. National Space Council said in a statement today.
President Trump has shown great interest in shaping US space policy. For example, in December 2017 signed Space Policy-1who laid the foundation for the Artemis campaign. Two other guidelines aim to streamline the regulation of commercial space and the protocols for controlling space traffic. And the Space Directive 4, which the President signed in February 2019, called for the creation of the Space forces, the first new U.S. military branch since the rise of the Air Force in 1947.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for strange life. Follow him on Twitter @ Michaeleldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.