Never one to miss an opportunity to sneak something under the radar, President Donald Trump and his friends in the mining industry used the current global pandemic again.
Not content to just roll back environmental protections, Trump has set his sights higher.
About 238,900 miles higher.
In what is certain to become a contentious move once the pandemic dust settles, Trump signed an executive order authorizing mining on the moon.
Trump takes break from coronavirus crisis to sign order for US to mine the moon. This is NOT satire. https://t.co/qmEabKfzYV— Barbara Malmet (@Barbara Malmet)1586403893.0
Trump now wants to 'mine the moon for resources' because causing havoc on Earth obviously isn't enough for him https://t.co/DvctvKVTMB— The Independent (@The Independent)1586438503.0
The first question from the United States' allies and enemies alike will probably revolve around why Trump thinks the USA has mineral rights on the moon. In fact, the USA already agreed they don't.
The 1979 global Moon Treaty agreement, stated activity in space must abide by international law. International law has specific guidance regarding mineral rights.
But Trump's order stated:
"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."
New executive order “makes clear that the US doesn’t view space as a ‘global commons’, opening the way for the mini… https://t.co/GqESRTM4Oe— Atossa Araxia Abrahamian (@Atossa Araxia Abrahamian)1586310646.0
Despite their close ties, Russia disagreed with the President.
The Russian space agency—Roscosmos—replied:
"Attempts to expropriate outer space and aggressive plans to actually seize territories of other planets hardly set the countries (on course for) fruitful cooperation."
The Russians were not alone in their pushback.
@Newsweek “We’re going to mine the moon and the Martians will pay for it.” ~ Donald J. Trump— 💈 That One Dude 💈 (@💈 That One Dude 💈)1586372231.0
Just when you thought this couldn't all get more ridiculous... https://t.co/tC3sps5PpF— Michael E. Mann (@Michael E. Mann)1586315908.0
President Trump signed an executive order to start mining for the natural resources on the moon. Does he know the d… https://t.co/gA73EGmHT9— Renata Shaykhetdinoav (@Renata Shaykhetdinoav)1586383910.0
I’m sorry but does this say what I think it says? https://t.co/OjPm99sJfQ— Dean Dobbs ✨ (@Dean Dobbs ✨)1586383853.0
It's official - we live in the most ghastly work of satire imaginable. https://t.co/QiWupPQPkB— Graham Lithgow (@Graham Lithgow)1586369769.0
Trump said he’s mining the Moon 👀 https://t.co/ycXTSlrIes— The Academy Music Business (@The Academy Music Business)1586478435.0
Trump wants to mine the moon. Can you dig it? Let's send Trump to the moon with a shovel and tell him to dig his own damn minerals.— Steven West (@Steven West)1586459533.0
It's unclear what will happen with Trump's executive order. At present, the United States has no means to travel to and from the moon.
Flights to the International Space Station are done with rockets provided by the Russian space program using the Soyuz spacecraft.
Whether Trump's latest move harms that program remains to be seen.