We Need a Down-to-Earth Approach to Solve Our Problems

We wrote earlier this week that President Trump issued an executive order establishing a policy that calls for the U.S. to mine and exploit the other resources like water on the moon.  As Axios explained, the order “directs the State Department to find international partners that are interested in collaborating with the U.S. on creating ‘sustainable operations’ related to commercial use of space-based resources.”

A nation that won’t be a partner in this new scheme? Russia.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has condemned the order this week, likened it to colonialism and said in a statement that “There have already been examples in history when one country decided to start seizing territories in its interest — everyone remembers what came of it.”

Moreover, Russia seems to be paying little attention to Trump’s wants. After he urged Russia and Saudi Arabia to drastically cut their oil production last week in an effort to stabilize oil markets, the nations only agreed to a tentative deal to moderately limit production.

Why This Matters: Meanwhile as oil companies are collapsing and solar energy keeps growing, Trump has made no indication he’ll help the renewable energy industry during the coronavirus recovery. We need our President to focus less on the moon and more on what’s happening on Earth (like pandemics and climate change).

Cartoon by Alex Bowman

Up Next

Scientists Test Solar Panel that Beams Power to Earth from Space

Scientists Test Solar Panel that Beams Power to Earth from Space

Pentagon scientists have successfully tested a small solar panel that, when launched into space, can collect solar power and beam it to any place on earth. The special panel is called a Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module (PRAM) and was launched last May attached to a drone that circles the earth once every 90 minutes. If scaled up, scientists say that these orbital solar panels could work 24/7 and collect more sunlight than those on earth, and provide power to remote areas of the globe and major power grids alike.

Why This Matters: Along with hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters, climate change will also be increasing power outages. This new technology could play a role in reducing power outages and creating a globally connected power grid.

Continue Reading 515 words
First All-Civilian Private Space Flight to Launch This Year

First All-Civilian Private Space Flight to Launch This Year

On Monday, SpaceX announced that it would launch the first all-civilian crew to space this year, with no training or assistance from NASA or another government agency.  Leading the four-person mission will be billionaire Jared Isaacman, an experienced pilot and CEO of e-commerce company Shift4.

Why this Matters: This publicity stunt is meant to suggest that the goal of space tourism — to bring ordinary citizens to outer space — is nearer than we think.

Continue Reading 434 words
As Private Companies Near Space Travel and Exploitation, New Legal Questions Arise

As Private Companies Near Space Travel and Exploitation, New Legal Questions Arise

To many companies, space is the new “Wild West,” a “final frontier”  of resources to be exploited for profit. To avoid a “land rush” in space, nations and space companies will need to agree on what they can claim to own or even begin to extract from outer space before their competitors beat them to it. 

Why this Matters:  Tesla and Amazon are working to make space travel and resource extraction for private citizens and companies possible.

Continue Reading 466 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.