Chris Hadfield says he’s been working with King Charles on a space sustainability plan dubbed the Astra Carta.
The Astra Carta will explore how humans can use space and settle the moon in a different way than they have settled on Earth, the Canadian astronaut said Tuesday.
“We have a clean slate with the moon,” he told The Canadian Press on the sidelines of the Super Session, a Toronto conference held by the Creative Destruction Lab, a non-profit helping science and tech firms.
“There’s no life on the moon, so we’re not disrupting an ecology.”
Hadfield has been working on the initiative since last summer, when the British monarch, who has long been outspoken on environmental issues, reached out to him for help. They plan to release a version of the Astra Carta on June 28 in London.
Hadfield hopes the Astra Carta will evolve into a document that will engage many decision makers across the globe and guide some of the fundamental patterns around human and legal behaviour in new territories like space.
Canadians should think of some of the issues it will raise as if we have just discovered an untapped continent, he said.
“What would we do with it? Who would own it? Whose laws? Who can drill and who can take advantage of the short-term and long-term resources that exist there,” he questioned.
“And how are we going to self-govern? If you kill somebody on the moon, whose court are you appearing in?”
These questions all make space a “new opportunity,” he said.
“How we settle the moon is how we’re going to settle every place we go after.”
The Astra Carta name is a nod to the Magna Carta, a document dating back to 1215, which guaranteed English political liberties and lay the foundations for modern democracy and freedoms.
When it was first drafted, Hadfield said it was rejected by the public and eventually rewritten. He expects the Astra Carta to evolve as well and to draw interest from policymakers.
He said he was editing a final draft of it last night and has been helping the king and his staff write it.
It isn’t Hadfield’s first brush with royalty.
“I live a bizarre life,” he said. “Several years ago, when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were still alive, they invited us for a sleepover at Windsor Castle, and at first we were like, who sent us this email? Come on. It can’t be real.”
Hadfield and his wife headed for the English castle, where he said they got to know the late monarch and prince “a little bit.”
“It got close to dinner time and the dogs were milling around because they were like, ‘Hey mom, is it dinner time yet?’ and the queen’s going not yet,” Hadfield said.
“Prince Philip slips some food under the table.”
He’s since met the Royal Family several times and said it’s always “lovely” to spend time with them and see how they try to be a good influence.
“But I don’t kid myself. It’s a huge privilege and a rare opportunity and fun.”