WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NASA on Friday set the stage for a global debate over the basic principles governing how humans will live and work on the moon, as it released the main tenets of an international pact for moon exploration called the Artemis Accords.
The accords seek to establish ‘safety zones’ that would surround future moon bases to prevent what the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration called “harmful interference” from rival countries or companies operating in close proximity.
They would also permit companies to own the lunar resources they mine, a crucial element in allowing NASA contractors to convert the moon’s water ice for rocket fuel or mine lunar minerals to construct landing pads.
The accords are a key part of NASA’s effort to court allies around its plan to build a long-term presence on the lunar surface under its Artemis moon program.
“What we’re doing is we are implementing the Outer Space Treaty with the Artemis Accords,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told Reuters, referring to a 1967 international pact that emphasizes that space should be used for peaceful rather than military uses.