Donald Trump's Plans for Mining the Moon Edge Closer with Draft 'Artemis Accords'

Draft legal proposals about mining on the moon suggest "safety zones" be put in place to protect American bases from rival operations.

According to Reuters, a U.S.-led international agreement to formalize guidelines over how companies own resources mined from the moon while preventing damage or interference from other nations. 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.

The Artemis Accords takes its name from NASA's latest space program, which aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024 with additional travel to Mars.

Sources told Reuters the U.S. aims to negotiate proposals with its "space partners" in Europe, Canada and Japan in the coming weeks, without confirming a date. It is not believed that Russia will play a role, at least initially, in the draft plans.

On April 15, the U.S. Space Force criticized Russia after the launch of a missile system that is believed to be capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit.

"Russia's DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing," one general warned. The same agency is creating new weapons to jam enemy satellite signals during orbital conflict.

One source told Reuters that the accords are not designed to claim moon territory. The safety zones will instead ensure coordination between countries or commercial firms operating in certain regions without needing sovereign areas, they stated.

The unnamed source said: "The idea is if you are going to be coming near someone's operations, and they've declared safety zones around it, then you need to reach out to them in advance, consult and figure out how you can do that safely for everyone."

The White House has been contacted for comment.

At the end of last month, NASA confirmed Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics had been selected to design and develop human landing systems for the Artemis program.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said at the time: "This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program."

NASA has described the moon as a "stepping stone" for Mars. According to its website, the multi-billion dollar project aims to establish "sustainable exploration" by 2028.

The agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the moon contains elements that could be a "treasure trove of rare resources" including Helium-3 and rare earth metals.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty states that no nation can claim ownership of the moon or other celestial bodies, but international laws and regulations remain in their infancy.

Dr. Scott Pace, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, said after Trump's signing of the April 6 executive order about space mining that the U.S. has a right to obtain resources and does not consider space to be a "global commons."

"The order reaffirms U.S. support for the 1967 Outer Space Treaty while continuing to reject the 1979 Moon Agreement, Pace said, according to a White House release.

"[It] clarifies the U.S. 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 executive order did stress however, that international support is being sought in regards to the "safe and sustainable" recovery and use of space-based resources.

The Moon
A photo taken on May 13, 2019 shows a view of the moon in Cannes, southern France LAURENT EMMANUEL/AFP/Getty