The Guardian • Issue #1985

Australia to help US establish “strategic base” on the moon

The federal government’s $50 million trailblazer program will support businesses to develop a semi-autonomous robot which NASA will use to collect lunar soil as part of the Artemis program, which seeks to set up a permanent “strategic base” on the moon.

This comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled an increased focus on space-exploration.

“By 2030, we want to triple the size of our space sector – adding $12 billion to our economy and creating up to 20,000 new, high-skilled jobs – providing more opportunities for Australians and industries.”

The Artemis Accords, drafted by NASA and the US Department of State and signed by Australia and twelve other countries in late 2020, is the legislative framework aimed at tying Space Law to US-interests.

Unlike the United Nations’ multilateral 1979 “Outer Space” treaty, the Artemis Accords are an attempt by the US to enforce its own interpretation of space law from above, pressuring its allies and subordinates to accept and abide by its terms.

The Accords have been criticised for violating space law established in the Outer Space treaty that expressly forbids nations from claiming planetary bodies by allowing Artemis signatories to claim any resources extracted from celestial objects.

However, as a ratifier of the Moon Treaty since 1986, the Morrison government has placed Australia in conflict with its legislated commitment to an international regime responsible for overseeing the extraction of resources from space.

The Artemis Accords amount to little more than a brazen attempt to not only privatise space for the benefit of US commercial interests, but to militarise it in preparation for war.

In addition to desired profits from resource extraction, space “exploration” is as an important outlet for surplus capital in the expanding the military industrial complex.

Military action is reliant on satellites for communication, navigation, and weapons guidance. The militarisation of space is a front-line in the unceasing campaign to enforce the US-led imperialist world order.

The AUKUS agreement was flagged by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne as increasing collaboration between the US and Australia on space technology.

This was reiterated by the Joint Statement on Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2021, which claimed that the US and Australia must establish shared space capabilities to understand “space related threats […] and achieve Alliance objectives.”

In addition, plans for combined satellite activities “to provide global coverage in support of a wide range of intelligence mission requirements” were unveiled.

As the US ramps up aggression in a bid to create a new Cold War and arms race, the international community must resist its attempts to galvanise the space-faring world into opposing blocs, as well as the US’ aims to use space for militarism and profit. Instead, we must continue to promote the collective exploration of space “for peaceful purposes.”

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