On 6 April 2020, US President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources. This order addresses U.S. policy regarding the recovery and use of resources in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies.
Dr. Scott Pace, Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, released the following statement on behalf of the Administration:
“As America prepares to return humans to the Moon and journey on to Mars, this Executive Order establishes U.S. policy toward the recovery and use of space resources, such as water and certain minerals, in order to encourage the commercial development of space.”
Dr. Pace continued: “The order reaffirms U.S. support for the 1967 Outer Space Treaty while continuing to reject the 1979 Moon Agreement, which only 17 of the 95 Member States of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space have ratified in the past four decades. 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 President has directed the Secretary of State to object to any attempt to treat the 1979 Moon Agreement as representing customary international law. This Agreement represents a failed attempt at constraining free enterprise and it does not represent the bright future of a growing space economy.
The Secretary of State is further directed to lead the U.S. Government’s effort to encourage international support for the recovery and use of outer space resources. To this end, the United States will seek to negotiate joint statements, bilateral and multi-lateral agreements and other instruments regarding safe and sustainable use of space resources with like-minded states.
As the United States continues towards its goal of placing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and landing the first human on Mars, the Administration will seek every opportunity to work with commercial, international, and non-government organizations to ensure that American ideals of transparency, partnership, free and fair trade, and private enterprise are part of humanity’s expansion in space.