President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will allow the United States to mine the moon for resources. As the Guardian points out, the executive order indicates that the country doesn't see space as a "global commons," ignoring the 1979 Moon Treaty.
Titled "Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources," the executive order has reportedly been in the works for a year. "Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space," the order reads, reiterating that the U.S. never signed the 1979 treaty.
The move will help with NASA's Artemis program, which will see two astronauts land on the moon in 2024 in order to establish a human presence on and around the moon by 2028.
Forbes reports that NASA will mine the moon as part of the Artemis program, using small payload designs. "Imagine a rover the size of your Roomba crawling the moon’s surface," said NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory technologist Sabah Bux. "Science payloads need to be similar in size to a new bar of soap to fit cleanly inside the rover—100 x 100 x 50 mm."
Additionally, the order means that America can object to "any attempt to use international law to hinder its efforts to remove chunks of the moon" and Mars, plus any "other celestial bodies." The federal government, however, will "require partnership with commercial entities to recover and use resources, including water and certain minerals, in outer space."