The Hill (USA): Russia should reconsider its rejection of the idea of commercialization of the moon

Recently, the Russian news Agency TASS quoted Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space Agency Roscosmos, which rejected the idea of commercial activities on the moon. In an interview with radio station “Komsomolskaya Pravda” he said, “We will not allow the privatization of the moon anyone. It is illegal, is contrary to international law”.

This statement is regarded as a rejection proposed by NASA agreement Accords Artemis (“Artemis Agreement”), a set of basic rules of behavior that countries and private companies will have to comply with in the process of exploration of the moon. This agreement, which formed the outer space Treaty of 1967, among other things, permits to conduct commercial activities on the surface of the moon, in particular, to get resources. The agreement Accords Artemis will consolidate in the international legal framework recently adopted by the American law that allows private companies to keep hold of the resources they extract.

For the simple reason that the Russian space program depends on the support and favor of NASA, Russia may want to reconsider its reluctance to adopt Artemis Accords.

The Russian space program soon will lose a significant source of profits, thanks to the commercial success of the manned space program of NASA. After the termination of the space Shuttle program, NASA had to pay Russia a huge sum for the ability to send American astronauts to the International space station. This arrangement not only brought Russia significant revenue, but actually gave Russia control over access to the ISS.

A few years ago, Rogozin said the United States is that Russia controls the access of astronauts to the ISS, when the background of the sanctions imposed against Russia in connection with its military campaign in Ukraine, he invited “US to take its astronauts to the ISS using the trampoline”.

Now NASA has a “trampoline” — thanks to the company SpaceX Elon musk (Elon Musk). Meanwhile, as newly written edition of the Axios, the Russian space program is going through hard times. And loss of money NASA negatively affect her. Budget space program of Russia was reduced from $ 5 billion a year to about 1.7 billion a year. In this financial environment, the implementation of ambitious plans for sending robotic probes to the lunar surface and creating a replacement for the rocket “Soyuz” seems highly problematic at best.

It is obvious that in the current circumstances, if Russia rejects Artemis Accords and, consequently, a partnership with NASA, its capabilities are very limited. Not having at its disposal sufficient resources, its space program will not do it alone. Russia will need to find partners. But who?

Most potential partners independent of the efforts of Russia in space exploration is likely to side with NASA and its commercial partners. NASA and companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, have the necessary resources in order to return to the moon and go to Mars. European and most Asian countries want to participate in this, and they won’t argue against Artemis Accords.

There is only China is the only country other than the United States, which has the resources to send people into space. However, if the actions of Beijing in a pandemic coronavirus something and saying that it is impossible to effectively collaborate with others. In any case, the space Alliance between Moscow and Beijing, Russia will definitely be the Junior partner.

Russia knows that the United States is a good partner for space exploration, because it is already 30 years working with NASA in the process of ensuring the work of the International space station. In view of the above, if Russia wants to participate in space research, cooperation with NASA is the only option available.

In fact, rejecting the agreement Accords Artemis, Rogozin rejects the dictatorship of the law outside of planet Earth. Instead of trying to say that Russia will not accept attempts to “privatize” the moon, she needs to start negotiations with the United States and other countries to the extension of competition between States in space took place in an atmosphere of peace and freedom. Russia only will win, if she will share opportunities for knowledge and wealth which can be found on the surface of the moon, Mars and other planets.