The blueprint would be the latest attempt to gain supporters for NASA’s project to put humans and space stations on the moon within the next decade. The Artemis Accords, named after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s new Artemis moon program, has not been officially disclosed to US allies yet.
The news comes as the agency is increasingly becoming involved in enforcing American foreign policy.
The moon is seen as a potential asset for major strategic purposes for the US as well as other spacefaring countries.
It would also help achieve long-term scientific research goals, like supporting future missions to Mars.
The draft would outline “safety zones” around future moon bases to avoid conflicts with companies operating in the area or between countries.
The agreement would also create a space for international laws to protect companies’ rights to own what they mine, the sources claimed.
In the coming weeks, US officials will hold official discussions with space allies such as Canada, Japan, and European countries, as well as the United Arab Emirates, and any countries the Trump administration sees as having “like-minded” ideas for lunar mining.
Russia, a major partner with NASA on the International Space Station, will not be an early partner in the pact, the sources said, as the Pentagon increasingly views Moscow as adverse for moving their satellites in a “threatening” way toward US spy satellites in Earth orbit.
The US has been a member of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and interprets the “safety zones” as an enforcement of one of its highly discussed clauses.
The section states that celestial bodies and the moon are “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
“This isn’t some territorial claim,” said one source, who wished to remain anonymous.
The safety areas – whose size would vary depending on the mission – would help establishing coordination between space partners without technically claiming territory as their own, he said.
“The idea is if you are going to be coming near someone’s operations, and they’ve declared safety zones around it, then you need to reach out to them in advance, consult and figure out how you can do that safely for everyone.”
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Artemis Accords is widely seen as an attempt to consolidate the US’ diplomatic efforts, despite risking disputes between Washington and space rivals such as China.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “NASA’s all about science and technology and discovery, which are critically important, but I think less salient is the idea that NASA is a tool of diplomacy,
“The important thing is, countries all around the world want to be a part of this. That’s the element of national power.”
He added that countries taking part in the Artemis would agree to “norms of behaviour that we expect to see” in space.
The Artemis program, which is costing NASA tens of billions of dollars, aims to put humans on the moon by 2024.
It would also establish a “sustainable presence” on the lunar south pole from then on.
Private companies would be able to exploit the resources found on the moon, including subterranean water that can be converted to serve as rocket fuel.
The US passed a law in 2015 to give firms the property rights over the resources they mine in outer space, however that decree does not exist in the international legal system.
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