On April 6, 2020, the White House passed an executive order. The order states that space resources can be used by multiple organizations. But it also states to head off international legal issues. Because of the executive order, State Departments need to lead an interagency load to encourage other countries. The American position stands at a safe and sustainable operation for both public and private recovery by using space resources. But this needs to follow federal law and abide by the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015. This grants American companies rights to the space resources they extract. Now the first on the list for space mining is ‘Moon‘.
Does this Executive Order go against the Moon Treaty?
The order signed by President Donald Trump reads ” All Americans deserve the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources from outer space. Because space is physically and legally unique branch of daily human activity. The United States does not review it as a global common ground“. So it will be the policy of the United States to internationally support the use of space resources, consistent with proper law.
This entire order comes as a total shock to the general public. Because it totally goes against the Moon Agreement, also known as the Moon Treaty, which treats the moon and other celestial bodies as a “common heritage to mankind“. The United States and almost all other spacefaring nations rejected the final Moon Agreement in the ’70s.
Well this is interesting: A new Executive Order further encouraging the use of space resources (aka mining the moon and other celestial bodies for resources). https://t.co/mH6E2H3ICh
— Michael Greshko (@michaelgreshko) April 6, 2020
It seems like the US Government was planning this for a long time. Planning for this executive order started last year when this was entirely linked to NASA. The US-based space agency outlines its long term plans for continuous sustainable space explorations.
Chris Johnson, a space law adviser for the Secure World Foundation, says ” There is nothing much new going on here”. This order includes the rejection of the Moon Treaty and the concept of space being a “global commons“. But it still continues to support the Outer Space Treaty founded by the United Nations.
As of 2020, the conversation is not about whether it is legal or not to use space resources. But the question still arrives. Now that the order is official can space be “commercialized”?