The US has been working on a draft deal that would regulate mining on the Moon as well as establishing “safety zones” around would-be extraterrestrial bases. However, the proposal reportedly excludes Russia, a major space power.
The Trump administration is ironing out details of a plan that would give its potential mining activities on the Moon a semblance of legality – even if not all the space-faring nations, including major ones such as Russia, are on board – a source told Reuters on Tuesday.
Citing US officials, the outlet reported that Washington will ask some of its allies, such as Canada, Japan, the UAE, and European nations, to sign an agreement that would regulate mining on the lunar surface in preparation for greater human activity on the Moon.
The agreement could pave the way for private companies to claim ownership over the resources they extract, some of which hope to mine the Moon for water, which can be converted into rocket fuel.
The proposed pact also provides for the establishment of “safety zones” around bases which, according to Washington’s vision, could soon pop up on the Moon. The zones would vary in size depending on the “operation,” the source told Reuters.
While this provision might appear to run afoul of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that bans all nations from staking territorial claims over any part of a celestial body beyond Earth, the Trump administration is set to argue that the agreement is aimed at boosting coordination between the countries involved, and only reinforces the 1967 treaty.
The US will begin negotiating the pact with its allies “in the coming weeks.” However, at least in the “early” stages, the talks will not include Moscow, the report said.
Moscow has repeatedly blasted Washington for its continuous push to make space the legal equivalent of the Wild West, including plans to militarize the outer realms and seize territory on other planets.
While it has yet to realize its designs to grab hold of outer space, Washington has long eyed the vast resources it has to offer. Back in 2015, for instance, Congress passed a law allowing American companies and individuals to tap into Moon and asteroid resources.
Last month, Trump brought that vision one step closer to fruition, however, signing an executive order declaring that the US does not view space as “a global commons” and arguing that “Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space.”
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