As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump is eyeing something a little more...celestial, if you will, signing an executive order that will bar any international efforts to prevent the removal of resources from the moon.
On Monday morning, President Trump signed an executive order, which has been in the works for over a year, aptly titled “Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources.” The order stresses that the 1967 space treaty enables the use of resources on the moon, Mars, and other places.
“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, adding that “Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space."
This arrangement also specifies, however, that any businesses in space should comply with international law. In 2015, the Obama Administration passed a law giving the green light to American firms to utilize resources from the moon and asteroids.
This executive order should come as no surprise. Trump has taken a consistent interest in asserting American power in the final frontier, creating the Space Force branch of the U.S. military in 2018 with the goal of carrying out space warfare if needed. The new executive order, however, now aims to clear the path for businesses to go all-in on Trump's plans.
Scientists have long believed that future missions to the moon would yield major resource opportunities that could be used in the energy sector or other purposes. NASA's Artemis program intends to bring Americans back to the moon by 2024.
Researchers are investing a lot of time and resources in new ways for astronauts to live-with and take advantage of the unique ecosystems of celestial destinations. These projects include sustainable shelters, renewable energies and much more.
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