Seeking tranquillity: Embedding sustainability in lunar exploration policy

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Given the renewed interest in exploring and exploiting the resources of the Moon, this paper will explore the proposition that sustainability should be a fundamental consideration when formulating policy in respect of regulating lunar activities. The current lunar regulatory framework, however, is a product of the Cold War and conceived at a time when sustainability and space environmental issues were not within the contemplation of policy makers. Yet there is an increasing awareness of the need for space sustainability within the space community and this should be focused towards shaping policy in respect of lunar exploration. Inherently linked to this is a new multi-sectored era of space activity with emerging space nations and private companies competing alongside established space actors to exploit the natural resources of the Moon. Disputes over legally binding methods of lunar resource allocation are harming the chances of obtaining any consensus regarding sustainable development. This discussion will show that there is no compelling evidence that commercial mining of the Moon will yield the vast natural resources that would make such a venture economically viable. It will be advocated that a policy of promoting the use of the moon for scientific and exploratory purposes by means of existing fora such as IDAC and using non-binding codes to create normative values of sustainability should be placed at the heart of lunar exploration policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
JournalSpace Policy
Issue number1
Early online date2 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


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