Nations sign on to NASA's Artemis Accords for peaceful space exploration

Katie Ramirez
October 16, 2020

The Artemis Accord is actually reinforcing the Outer Space Treaty which was signed by 110 countries in 1967.

A different global framework, the Outer Space Treaty, has been ratified by over 100 countries but does not set rules on resource extraction, while the United Nations' so-called Moon Agreement bars individuals and businesses from claiming possession of celestial bodies but has not been ratified by leading spacefaring countries such as the United States, Russia, China and Japan.

NASA made its intention to draft the agreements in May after working with the US State Department and the National Space Council to explore the Moon.

The Artemis Accords, named after the USA space agency's program to land astronauts on the moon by 2024, were signed by Australia, the UK, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates.

The pact, called the Artemis Accords, is intended as a framework for best practice on moon and space exploration, covering guidelines on the use of resources, making rocket fuel, safe operations and emergency assistance.

Major space powers China and Russian Federation were not among the signatories, though NASA hopes more countries will eventually join. Its stated goals include sending the first woman (and next man) to the moon by 2024, hence its name (in Greek mythology, Artemis was the twin sister of the god Apollo).

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The brand new Artemis Accords build on that foundation.

The project will also set in motion principles that will bring about a safe, peaceful and prosperous future in space for all of humanity, the release said.

The Accord builds on current worldwide regulations, which exempt celestial bodies, including the moon, from national claims of ownership, and adds a provision for "safety zones" around future lunar bases. NASA also plans to build a Lunar Gateway, a space station orbiting the moon.

Russia's lack of involvement in the Gateway could see the end of the close cooperation seen by the two big space-faring nations on the ISS for the last two decades.

What is already being called the broadest and most diverse worldwide human space exploration program in history, the space agency said rules must be followed by all countries to ensure a successful mission.

China, meanwhile, is out altogether.

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