More countries have joined the United States by signing the Artemis Accords. It is a set of rules binding the participants of the Artemis lunar exploration program. NASA announced the seven countries who have signed the same on October 13 during the International Astronautical Congress. The states are the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, Italy, Japan, Canada, and Australia. The signing happened through a virtual ceremony.
According to Jim Bridenstine, the principles will play a massive role in maintaining peace. The NASA administrator added that the accord would come through transparency and conflict avoidance measures. Another aspect will be public registration. The principles are on a seven-page document and set the ground rules that the participating countries will abide by in the future. They revolve around the likes of preservation of space heritage, interoperability, usage of the space resources, and releasing scientific data.
According to Bridenstine, there was a need for the rules given the Artemis program’s overwhelming interest. It is also an enhancement of the Outer Space Treaty. There has been a recent release of the accords. As much as not many people know the original ones, one of the few Mike Gold says that the latest is an improved version of the original one.
Initially, its focus was on the moon and Mars explorations. However, it considered the interests of other countries such as Japan, including comet and asteroid missions. NASA says that it is a better way of carrying bilateral agreements than using the United Nations. After all, the latter method would include the international body to converge the countries, requiring time. On the other hand, the agency’s approach saves time and brings all partners on-board.
As of now, there are existing agreements between NASA and Japan, Italy as well as Australia. Canada promised to contribute to the agency’s lunar Gateway. Gold says that the eight countries are but the beginning. Other countries are also welcome to join the Artemis program as long as they are willing to adhere to the Artemis accords. So, the interested states will be allowed to sign this later in the year.
Nevertheless, China might not be in a position to join. After all, the Wolf Amendment, there cannot exist any bilateral activities between NASA and China. So, unless the federal law changes, it will not be possible for China to sign the Artemis Accords.
At the same time, Keith Krach says that signing the accords is not mandatory. However, regardless of the number of countries that will sign, they must stick together. Bridenstine appreciates the number of those that have already signed but hopes that more will join later as well.