Space mining and discoveries to outer space are among the issues that have been discussed for a long time. With the decree signed by the Trump administration, these discussions further sparked. The U.S. officially ‘opened the trade’ to space.
The Obama administration signed the U.S. Space Mining Act (CSLCA) in 2015. This law allowed the environment to expand for the developing commercial space industry. In this way, it was legal to have the resources of US companies and their citizens from asteroids or points outside the world and to sell these resources.
On the 6th of April, the Trump administration took things a step further by signing a decree granting private enterprise rights to collect resources in space. This decision titled Promoting International Support for the Use and Reclamation of Space Resources also put an end to the conflict that began with the Outer Space Agreement in 1967 and lasted for decades.
Outer Space Agreement
With this decision, the USA withdrew from seeing space as ‘universal common assets’. With the new decision, the debate that began with the agreement signed between the USA, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom at the peak of the Space Race in 1967 was also the end of the debate.
The aim of this signed agreement was to establish a common structure to manage the activities of all the great powers in space. With this agreement, it was not only forbidden to try nuclear weapons in space, but also to take into account the interests of all humanity in the exploration and use of outer space. As of June 2019, the agreement was signed by 109 countries. In addition, 23 other countries have signed the agreement but have not yet completed the ratification process.
The US administration sees this law as a complement to the Space Directive-1 (Space Directive), which emphasizes the importance of commercial partnership in the discovery of Project Artemis and NASA on Mars and beyond. In the directive; It is emphasized that in order for the scientific discovery and long-term soundings of the Moon, Mars and other spatial objects to be successful, it is necessary to partner with commercial enterprises.
One of NASA’s long-term goals is to create a permanent program in Lunar sounding. This includes setting up the Lunar Gateway and Lunar Base Camp on the surface of the Moon. Of these structures; It is believed that it will allow long-term residence, extensive scientific research and even refueling on site.
Companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries have argued that space has to be opened to mining and commercial exploration for years. Peter Diamandis, the founder of formations such as X Prize and HeroX, and famous scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson say that the first trillionaires in the world will have their fortune with asteroid mining.
Of course, not everyone supports these space-related business initiatives. Russia’s space agency Roscosmos condemned this decree and said it was like colonization. Roscosmos manager Sergey Saveliev said the following about the decree:
“Attempts to confiscate outer space and to take over the regions in outer space do not lead countries to a productive union. There are several examples in history of what a country does to expand its regions, then everyone remembers what happened next. ”
Saveliev is not alone in connecting the Space Industry with the Imperialism Era. Dr. from the Oslo Metropolitan University Business Research Institute. Victor Shammas and independent researcher Tomas Holen published an article in Palgrave Communications.
Shammas and Holen stated in his article titled “A Big Step for the Capitalist Genre: Private Ventures in Outer Space” that commercial space discoveries will create disproportionate interests among people. It is claimed that SpaceX and similar initiatives are not much different from marine colonists and commercial explorers.
Among all these discussions, the USA officially ‘opened the trade’ to space and the Moon. So, what do you think about this? Do you think opening space to commercial enterprises is the beginning of the new colonial period? Or is it the beginning of one of the great leaps of human history? You can share your ideas with us in the comments section.