Aircraft taking off from Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. (Public domain CC0 image.)

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The Trump Administration is outlining plans for an international pact for mining on the moon. The Artemis Accords would be part of NASA’s latest efforts to obtain international allies to return to the moon over the next ten years. The proposal discusses “safety zones” that would be established around future moon bases to prevent rival countries or companies from causing damage or interference.

The draft of the agreement follows an executive order from President Trump that called for international cooperation to obtain natural resources from the moon. The proposal aligns with multiple recent public and private initiatives to collect resources from celestial objects.

According to sources quoted by Reuters, the pact is part of a plan by the administration to circumvent the United Nation’s treaty process. A senior administration official said the U.S. would cooperate with “like-minded nations” rather than go through the treaty process because of the slow process. Additionally, working with countries without spacefaring capacity would be a “waste of time.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the agreement would require a complete review by international law. His statement came after the initial Reuters report, which noted Russia would not be an early partner. The U.S. Department of Defense considers Russia a “hostile” spacefaring country, specifically because of satellite movements towards U.S. spy satellites. Conflict with China is also expected in light of The Artemis Accords.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Trump White House ‘drafting legal blueprint for moon mining’ as part of new deal called Artemis Accords – The U.S. Sun – 5/6/2020. The Artemis Accords are part of Donald Trump’s plans to skip over the United Nations treaty process in favor of “like-minded nations”. A treaty process would take too long and working with countries with little interest in space would be unproductive, a senior Trump administration official told Reuters. As countries increasingly view space as a new military domain, the US-led pact is also a sign of NASA’s growing role as a means of American diplomacy.

Artemis Accords moon mining pact in the works with Trump admin: Report – SlashGear – 5/6/2020 This is not the first time the United States has maneuvered to enact laws or agreements for the mining of resources outside of our planet Earth. The USA’s 2015 law U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act acted “to facilitate a pro-growth environment for the developing commercial space industry by encouraging private sector investment and creating more stable and predictable regulatory conditions.”

US to agree to PACT with ‘like-minded’ nations on space mining, ‘safety zones’ on Moon, sidelining Russia – report – RT International – 5/6/2020 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.

Donald Trump’s plans for mining the moon edge closer with draft “Artemis Accords” – Newsweek – 5/6/2020 Dubbed the Artemis Accords, the legal proposals are currently being drafted by the Trump administration but have not yet been shared with U.S. allies. The revelation comes weeks after the president signed an executive order on the “recovery and use of space resources,” including from the moon and celestial bodies.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Brian Weeden on Twitter, 5/6/20: Done right, this could be a big step forward for defining norms of behavior for space activities across a wide range of topics

Barry Ritholtz on Twitter, 5/6/20: Most surprising pushback I received about that big Businessweek piece last week was on asteroid mining — people believe its Science-Fiction.But it is not. This just came out yesterday.

Jack Posobiec on Twitter, 5/6/20: Space Force lets go EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration drafting ‘Artemis Accords’ pact for moon mining

Jason P. Woodbury  on Twitter, 5/6/20: Because sometimes a whole planet isn’t enough for plundering. Got to start looking around for some nearby heavenly bodies.

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