The administration of the President of the United States Donald trump is developing a legal project for resource extraction on the moon in accordance with the new US-sponsored international agreement called Artemis Accords, told Reuters people familiar with the proposed Pact.
The agreement will become the latest attempt to attract allies to plan for the withdrawal of the NASA people and space stations on the moon within the next decade. The space Agency is playing an increasing role in the implementation of American foreign policy. The Pact project has not yet officially handed over to the allies.
The United States and other countries are considering the moon as a key strategic asset in space. The moon also has implications for long-term scientific research, which could provide the possibility of future missions to Mars.
“The agreement of Artemis”, named in honor of the new program of the moon Artemis National administration on Aeronautics and research of space, offer a “security zone” that will surround future lunar base to prevent damage or interference from the competing countries or companies operating in the vicinity.
Sources said that the Pact also aims to provide under international law basis for holding companies the resources they extracted.
In the coming weeks, the U.S. government plans to formally negotiate the agreement with space partners, such as Canada, Japan and European countries, as well as with the United Arab Emirates, and to begin negotiations with countries that according to the White house can become “associates” in resource extraction on the moon.
Sources said that Russia, the main partner of NASA on the International space station, will not be an early partner in these agreements, as the Pentagon increasingly sees Moscow as hostile to American satellites in Earth orbit.
The United States is a party to the outer space Treaty of 1967 and considering “security zone” as the implementation of one of the articles under discussion. It says that the heavenly bodies and the Moon is “not subject to national appropriation, the sole use and occupation”.
“This is not some kind of a seizure,” said one of the sources. According to him, the security zone, the size of which will vary depending on operation, will allow for coordination between space actors, not counting the technically sovereign territory.
“The idea is that if you are going to approach someone else’s territory, and they declared it their security zone, you will need to contact the representatives, to consult and find out how you can do it safely for everyone,” the source said.
“Artemis agreement” are part of the plan of administration trump to abandon the Treaty process at the United Nations and instead to reach agreement with “the associates”, partly because the Treaty process takes too much time, and work with non space-faring Nations, would be counterproductive.
As countries increasingly view space as a new military domain, the agreement led by the United States, also represents the growing role of NASA as a tool of American diplomacy and is expected to cause controversy between space competitors of Washington, such as China.
“NASA is all about science, technologies and discoveries that are critically important but I think less obvious is the idea that NASA is a tool of diplomacy,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“The important thing is that countries all over the world want to be a part of it,” said Breidenstein, adding that participation in the program Artemis depends on the countries, adhere to the “standards of conduct, which we expect to see” in space.
NASA is investing tens of billions of dollars in the program “Artemis”, which promises to 2024 to send people to the moon and later to create a “sustainable presence” on the South pole of the moon, a private company will mine moon rocks and groundwater that can be converted into rocket fuel.
In 2015, the United States has passed a law granting companies ownership rights to resources they have mined in outer space, but in the international community, such laws do not exist.