President Trump Signs Executive Order to Reinvigorate Travel to the Moon

Published by Matt Fishman on

An executive order signed by President Trump today provides for the United States to “lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations.”

For “successful long-term exploration and scientific discovery of the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies” the executive order references the necessity for “partnership with commercial entities to recover and use resources, including water and certain minerals, in outer space.” Currently, the only international legal framework governing “commercial participation in the long-term exploration, scientific discovery, and use of the Moon, Mars, or other celestial bodies” is the Moon Agreement. The United States is not a member to this agreement, and with today’s executive order re-declares it will “object to any attempt by any other state or international organization to treat the Moon Agreement as reflecting or otherwise expressing customary international law.” (Similarly, the Moon Agreement is not recognized by the other major space-faring countries such as Russia, China, or the United Kingdom.) As such, in accordance with today’s order, the United States will “seek to negotiate joint statements and bilateral and multilateral arrangements with foreign states regarding safe and sustainable operations for the public and private recovery and use of space resources.”

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