The Trump administration is drafting a legal blueprint for mining on the moon under a new U.S.-sponsored international agreement called the Artemis Accords, people familiar with the proposed pact told Reuters.
The agreement would be the latest effort to cultivate allies around NASA’s plan to put humans and space stations on the moon within the next decade, and comes as the civilian space agency plays a growing role in implementing American foreign policy. The draft pact has not been formally shared with U.S. allies yet.
The Trump administration and other spacefaring countries see the moon as a key strategic asset in outer space. The moon also has value for long-term scientific research that could enable future missions to Mars – activities that fall under a regime of international space law widely viewed as outdated.
The Artemis Accords, named after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s new Artemis moon program, propose “safety zones” that would surround future moon bases to prevent damage or interference from rival countries or companies operating in close proximity.
The pact also aims to provide a framework under international law for companies to own the resources they mine, the sources said.
In the coming weeks, U.S. officials plan to formally negotiate the accords with space partners such as Canada, Japan, and European countries, as well as the United Arab Emirates, opening talks with countries the Trump administration sees as having “like-minded” interests in lunar mining.
Russia, a major partner with NASA on the International Space Station, won’t be an early partner in these accords, the sources said, as the Pentagon increasingly views Moscow as hostile for making “threatening” satellite maneuvers toward U.S. spy satellites in Earth orbit.
The United States is a member of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and sees the “safety zones” as an implementation of one of its highly debated articles. It states that celestial bodies and the moon are “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
The United States enacted a law in 2015 granting companies the property rights to resources they mine in outer space, but no such laws exist in the international community.
Joanne Gabrynowicz, editor-in-chief emerita of the Journal of Space Law, said an international agreement must come before staking out “some kind of exclusive area for science or for whatever reason.”
“It is not anything any nation can do unilaterally and still have it be legal,” she said.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette; editing by Bill Tarrant and Jonathan Oatis)
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