Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, according to international media reports, is reportedly collaborating with King Charles III on the drafting of the Astra Carta to protect the Moon. Their plan for space sustainability will be published on June 28 in London, according to the Canadian Press. The chosen name, Astra Carta, is a clear reference to the Magna Carta, the famous English legislation from 1215 that serves as the foundation for democracies worldwide.
This document would address several crucial questions, said Hadfield. “What should we do with the Moon? Who would own it? And the laws? Who can drill and who will benefit in the short and long term from its existing resources?”
Canada’s Role in Future Missions
The proposal holds special significance for Canada. Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Jeremy Hansen will fly around the Moon as part of the rest of the Artemis 2 crew. CSA will also provide the Canadarm3 robot for NASA‘s planned Lunar Gateway space station in orbit around the Moon.
Hadfield received the highest honor in his country, the Order of Canada, after his third and final space mission in 2012-2013. He commanded the ISS and gained attention for his use of social media, including his orbital rendition of David Bowie‘s famous “Space Oddity.”
The retired astronaut, on the sidelines of a conference in Toronto, did not explain how the Astra Carta would integrate with the existing United Nations (UN) space treaties on peaceful uses of space. For example, the UN Outer Space Treaty of 1967 addresses the overall space behavior of signatory nations, while the Moon Treaty of 1978 discusses only appropriate ways to peacefully explore the satellite.
The Model of the Magna Carta
Chris Hadfield has been working with King Charles III on drafting the Astra Carta on the Moon since last summer. The first public meeting with His Majesty on the topic took place in February 2023. When not occupied with royal affairs, King Charles III is known for his environmental concerns. Lately, environmental concern has become an issue in the space community as well, due to the increasing number of satellites in orbit.
The increase in space activity, although economically valuable, creates problems such as carbon dioxide emissions, increasing space congestion, and the higher risk of satellite collisions. The Canadian Press report (ref.) did not explain why June 28 was chosen. The 808th anniversary of the first drafting of the Magna Carta falls two weeks earlier on June 15.
The Magna Carta was issued by King John of England in 1215 in response to specific grievances against his rule by local nobles. King Henry III reissued the Magna Carta in 1217 amidst a civil war, and the final version was released in 1225. In the centuries that followed, the democratic principles of the Magna Carta were cited as fundamental to human rights. Examples include the U.S. Bill of Rights (1791), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).