The April 6 executive order states: “Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space, consistent with applicable law. Outer space is a legally and physically unique domain of human activity, and the United States does not view it as a global commons. Accordingly, it shall be the policy of the United States to encourage international support for the public and private recovery and use of resources in outer space, consistent with applicable law.”
According to Grossman, the executive order signed by US President Donald Trump might include the term “international support,” but it heavily implies that the US has a unilateral right to engage in the recovery and use of resources in space.
“So between denial and greed, here the US is moving ahead quite unilaterally to exploit - I think there’s gold up there. It’s very important. We’ve discussed this before - how US military documents throughout the years have actually talked about the US military moving up into space … We [the US] somehow think we have eminent domain,” Grossman added.
A report by Space Daily explains that space is a “challenging place for commercial activity,” especially since an increased body of knowledge points to there being valuable minerals such as gold, silver and platinum on celestial bodies such as the moon.
Under the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, of which the United States is a signatory, “the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind.” The nonbinding agreement further notes that “outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States” and “outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
However, the Moon Agreement, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, only has 18 signatories, none of which are major space powers such as Russia, China and the US, which potentially may open up the moon’s resources to the United States under the recent executive order. According to the agreement, “the moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind,” and an “international regime should be established to govern the exploitation of such resources when such exploitation is about to become feasible.”
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