According to documents released by the White House, Donald Trump paused his efforts around the growing coronavirus crisis to sign an executive order. This order will leave the US free to mine the moon for resources.
The document says the order rejects the 1979 global agreement known as the Moon Treaty .
This treaty says any activity in space should conform with international law.
The order states: “Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space.
“Outer space is a legally and physically unique domain of human activity, and the United States does not view it as a global commons.”
The order was entirely in keeping with the Trump administration’s stance on domestic mining.
The administration has sought to encourage domestic mining by scaling back on a series of environmental protections despite widespread condemnation.
It also continues the president’s interest in space.
Last December, he launched Space Force as a branch of the US military, saying “space is the world’s new war-fighting domain”.
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However, the move has been condemned by Russia.
There have been suggestions that America may be trying to “privatise space”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “any kind of attempt to privatise space in one form or another – and I find it difficult to say now whether this can be seen as an attempt to privatise space – would be unacceptable”.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos has also hit out at president Trump following the move.
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Roscosmos accused Mr Trump of creating a basis to take over other planets.
“Attempts to expropriate outer space and aggressive plans to actually seize territories of other planets hardly set the countries (on course for) fruitful cooperation,” it said in a statement.
However, US officials say the 1979 treaty was only signed by 17 of 95 member states on the relevant United Nations committee.
Scott Pace, from the National Space Council, said in a statement on behalf of the White House: “As America prepares to return humans to the moon and journey on to Mars, this Executive Order establishes US policy toward the recovery and use of space resources, such as water and certain minerals, in order to encourage the commercial development of space.”
The news comes after President Donald Trump accepted Moscow’s offer of help with medical supplies last week.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Trump “accepted with gratitude this aid of humanitarian nature” in a phone call with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
The US is grappling with the coronavirus epidemic with the total number of cases climbing to 434,114 and a death toll of 14,762.
Mr Trump made a reference to Russian aid for the first time during a press conference last Monday.
He said: “Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things”.
However, the US President is yet to elaborate on details of the supplies.
Reports of the US administration accepting aid from Russia have caused concerns that Moscow could be using the coronavirus crisis to get the US to ease some of the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia.
Footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry showed a military plane full of cardboard boxes taking off from an airfield outside Moscow late on Tuesday night.
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