The moon's water, ice and other mineral resources can be mined and used by the U.S., according to a new executive order signed by President Donald Trump.
On Monday, Trump signed the executive order called the Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources. The directive states that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty allows for the use of space resources on the moon, Mars and elsewhere.
"Supportive policy regarding the recovery and use of space resources is important to the creation of a stable and predictable investment environment for commercial space innovators and entrepreneurs, and it is vital to the long-term sustainability of human exploration and development of the Moon, Mars, and other destinations," the order reads.
"Outer space is a legally and physically unique domain of human activity, and the United States does not view space as a global commons.
"This Executive Order directs the Secretary of State to lead a U.S. Government effort to develop joint statements, bilateral agreements, and multilateral instruments with like-minded foreign states to enable safe and sustainable operations for the commercial recovery and use of space resources, and to object to any attempt to treat the 1979 Moon Agreement as expressing customary international law."
The U.S. did not sign the 1979 Moon Treaty, which says that non-scientific use of space resources must be governed by international regulations. In 2015, Congress passed a law specifically allowing American companies and citizens to use resources from the moon and asteroids.
The order states: "American industry and the industries of like-minded countries will benefit from the establishment of stable international practices by which private citizens, companies and the economy will benefit from expanding the economic sphere of human activity beyond the Earth."
In a statement, the president said: "After braving the vast unknown and discovering the new world, our forefathers did not only merely sail home—and, in some cases, never to return.They stayed, they explored, they built, they guided, and through that pioneering spirit, they imagined all of the possibilities that few dared to dream."