R. K. Patrick on the potential of an upcoming space race
MOSCOW — Russia’s recent annexation of the Crimea has bred a fresh batch of overnight experts. Most are now ruminating over whether Russia has further territorial ambitions in Eastern Ukraine but they are overlooking the obvious. It is now clear that Russia’s territorial ambitions extend far further than mere earthly possessions. Indeed by 2030, a new Russian Government report suggests, Russia will have colonized the Moon.
This may sound like lunacy, and it quite possibly is, but the report — which was quoted in the Russian daily paper Izvestia, and co-drafted by the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Roscosmos Space Agency and Moscow University — claims that “a geopolitical competition for the Moon’s natural resources may begin in the 21st century”. And, according to the report, Russia could soon be planning to construct an inhabited moon colony and scientific testing ground by 2030, which would be a precursor to potential mineral extraction.
According to Space Law, none of this is legal. The 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty, does not allow for any one nation to drill for their own personal benefit on the Moon. The Moon is, at least in a lofty theoretical sense, “the property of mankind”.
Yet the United Nations would be unable to condemn Russia’s actions — largely because Russia has a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, and so Russia could veto any motion condemning its inappropriate celestial conduct.
So it appears Neill Armstrong’s planting of the American flag on the surface of the Moon was not enough. Now Russia is looking operate on a policy of “finders keepers, losers weepers”, and to plant its tricolour on the moon, before hurriedly digging for minerals.
I imagine the United States will not stand for this; and so alongside the onset of what many perceive to be a “Second Cold War”, we could all soon be witnessing a relaunch of the Space Race.
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