The US regime has signed a treaty with seven countries governing exploration and exploitation of the Moon and its resources. While many signatories never even landed there, Russia and China were – perhaps unsurprisingly – not invited.
The Artemis Accords, proposed in May to set reasonable boundaries for the growing number of countries eager to stake a claim to Earth’s only satellite, have been officially unveiled on Tuesday.
In addition to the USA, the signatory countries are Australia, Canada, Italy, Great Britain, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, and Japan. The Artemis Accords are described as a means of ensuring the “sustainable human exploration of the solar system.”
Subtitled “Principles for Cooperation in the Civil Exploration and use of the Moon, Mars, Comets, and Asteroids for peaceful purposes,” the 18-page document colors resolutely within the lines of the aging Outer Space Treaty, which prevents any one country from staking a claim to the celestial body.
What we’re trying to do is establish norms of behavior that every nation can agree to,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters on a call marking the unveiling of the accords.
One clause sure to generate reams of conspiracy theories involves an agreement to “coordinate in advance” the public release of information on what any one country has discovered on the Moon – though “private sector operations” appear to be exempt from this requirement.
The signatories also promise to inform the United Nations Secretary-General before they start mining resources, though it’s not clear how this is to be enforced.
The casual reader might find the treaty’s signers an odd mix, given how few of the joining countries have actually landed a spacecraft – let alone a human being – on the Moon.
And the long shadow cast by those nations absent from the treaty that have in fact left their mark in the lunar dust raises even more questions.
After all, it wasn’t the USA, but China, that explored the Dark Side of the Moon for the first time last year. And the USA has long relied on Russian rocket-power to access the International Space Station.
American astronauts hadn’t even taken off from US soil since 2011 until May, 2020 when billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully sent a pair to the ISS from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
Russia had previously described the project as a lunar “invasion” and has repeatedly expressed disdain for Washington’s politicization of a satellite that is not supposed to belong to anyone under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
While Russia is an honorary guest at the lunar banquet thanks both to Sputnik and to the US’ long reliance on Moscow’s rocket-power to get American astronauts into the stratosphere, China has even more of an uphill battle to fight to win its way into the Moon Club – never mind the Yutu-2 rover that recently became the first human-made object to traverse the surface of the dark side of the moon.
However, the Artemis signers, who hope to build a Lunar Gateway orbiting the Moon in the model of the ISS, might have competition in the near future. Russia and China announced in July that they were interested in building their own Moon research base together, though the idea is still in its infancy.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Space Travel News 2020.