DONALD TRUMP has urged the United States to mine the Moon and possibly Mars for resources.
The US President signed an executive order on Tuesday that brushes aside historic treaties that view space as a “global commons” to be governed by international bodies.
Instead, the vast stores of water and minerals on the Moon, Mars and asteroids are ripe for the taking by Nasa and other international space agencies, according to the directive.
The move paves the way for a new space race in which agencies stake claims to parts of space objects brimming with mineable resources, such as oxygen and metals.
Nasa currently plans to land man on the Moon again in 2024 and has explicitly stated it intends to mine the rocky satellite for resources to supply a permanent Moon base.
“Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space,” the order states.
It remarks that the US had never signed a 1979 agreement known as the moon treaty.
This treaty states that anyone mining off-Earth resources must comply with laws governed by the United Nations.
It has never been ratified by the United States, Russia or any of the other main space-faring nations.
“The order reaffirms US support for the 1967 Outer Space Treaty while continuing to reject the 1979 Moon Agreement,” said Dr Scott Pace, deputy assistant to the president and executive secretary of the National Space Council.
“The order further clarifies that the United States does not view outer space as a ‘global commons,’ and it reinforces the 2015 decision by Congress that Americans should have the right to engage in the commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space.”
The order blasts the Moon Treaty for its ineffectiveness at promoting “commercial participation” in exploration, scientific discovery and “use of the Moon, Mars, or other celestial bodies.”
As part of its ambitious Artemis mission programme to the Moon, Nasa plans to mine the Moon’s south pole.
Robotic landers will first touch down on the lunar surface ahead of a 2024 manned mission.
Nasa’s Artemis lunar mission – key facts
Here’s everything we know so far…
- Nasa has pledged to land man on the Moon in 2024
- The mission, dubbed Artemis, will mark the first time astronauts have set foot on the lunar surface since 1972
- A giant Nasa rocket dubbed the Space Launch System will carry astronauts beyond Earth’s atmosphere
- Once at the Moon, two astronauts will descend to the surface from an orbiting craft called the Lunar Gateway
- Nasa has pledged that one of the landing crew will be female, marking the first time a woman has set foot on the Moon
- The pair would land on the lunar south pole, where vast reserves of frozen water could be tapped for future explorers
- The landing system that brought the astronauts to the surface will then blast back to the orbiting Gateway satellite
- They will board an Orion capsule for the 250,000-mile trip back to Earth
- Nasa has a mountain of technical challenges to overcome before Artemis gets the green light
- It’s still not clear if everything will be ready in time for the ambitious 2024 launch date
- Nasa boss Jim Bridenstine has said the Moon will serve as a critical training ground for Mars expeditions, perhaps in the 2030s
Nasa has promised that the first woman to walk on the Moon will be on board the trip.
Later in the 2020s, the space agency will set up an orbiting lunar base from which missions to Mars and beyond can be launched.
Called Gateway, the permanent space station will house astronauts, laboratory experiments and more.
Humans will have to mine ice from the rock below to top up resources like drinking water and hydrogen for rocket fuel.
Nasa has just four years to reach the Moon, and is doing all it can to drub up funding and support.
In other space news, alien life may be lurking within a mysterious cave under the surface of Mars, scientists claim.
Scientists think they’ve found the first known ‘alien protein’ inside a meteorite.
And, Elon Musk recently revealed a Starship rocket with a scantily clad “battle angel” on its side.