Aktaeon returns: a geopolitical economic perspective on lunar gateways and research stations

Unable to resist calling his beloved hunting dogs, Actaeon was torn to pieces after being cursed by Artemis (a Moon goddess and of the hunt) having unintentionally seen her bathing. Albeit in force since 1984 for the ratifying parties, the 1979 Moon Treaty was similarly shredded by lobbying interests in the USA demanding property rights in space. In the new space race, a different Cold War is forming between trading partners USA and China.

They have each proposed lunar research stations, and intermediate installations in space as a stepping-stone to space exploitation on the way to Mars and the reaming solar system. China’s support comes from the Global South, the USA relies on its traditional and former imperial powers and colonial allies in Europe and elsewhere. Greece is one of the signatories to the Artemis Accords and missions proposed by the USA following on from the Apollo missions of the first Space Race in the 1960s, while Saudi Arabia has withdrawn from the Moon Treaty.

China’s International Lunar Research Station proposal and the USA’s Artemis Accords both state adherence to the spirit of cooperation written into the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, but split international and global support into two camps, contradicting this cooperation. Others are signatories to both the Moon Treaty, and either the Artemis Accords or the ILRS, introducing possible infraction and dissent into international law, denying custom and harmony in favour of dominance and power.

The USA remains adamant in its opposition to China and technological cooperation in space, recalling Lucian’s war between the Sun and Moon kingdoms. These changed multilateral agreements between national agencies, like a reconstructed Actaeon transformed into Frankenstein’s monster, will propel discordant Eris into the supposed province of all mankind for the benefit of some instead of for all, carrying with it conflicting economic hegemonies and ideological geopolitics outwards as part of the common heritage of humanity.

This presumed cultural recidivism unleashed on an unsuspecting universe often leads in much science fiction to a judgement against humanity, the latter seen to be a destructive force. These agreements will however encourage innovation into new technologies for use both on Earth and in space, whilst at the same time introducing new directions for the economies of the participating countries.