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Artemis Accords

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Artemis Accords
The Artemis Accords: Principles for Cooperation in the Civil Exploration and Use of the Moon, Mars, Comets, and Asteroids for Peaceful Purposes
Map of states' adoption of the Artemis Accords
Participation in the Artemis Accords (June 2024)
  Signatory nation

TypeSpace law
Signed13 October 2020; 3 years ago (13 October 2020)
Parties43
LanguagesEnglish
Full text
Artemis Accords at Wikisource

The Artemis Accords is a series of non-binding multilateral arrangements[1] between the United States government and other world governments that elaborates on the norms expected to be followed in outer space.[2] The accords are related to the Artemis program, an American-led effort to return humans to the Moon by 2026, with the ultimate goal of expanding space exploration to Mars and beyond.[3]

As of 12 June 2024 (11 days ago) (2024-06-12), with the accession of Armenia, 43 countries have signed the accords, including twenty-one in Europe, eight in Asia, six in South America, three in North America, three in Africa, and two in Oceania.

Drafted by NASA and the U.S. Department of State, the Accords establish a framework for cooperation in the civil exploration and peaceful use of the Moon, Mars, and other astronomical objects.[4] They are explicitly grounded in the United Nations Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which signatories are obliged to uphold, and cite most major U.N.-brokered conventions constituting space law.[5][6][7][8][note 1]

The Accords were originally signed on 13 October 2020 by representatives of the national space agencies of eight countries: Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[5] The Accords remain open for signature indefinitely, as NASA anticipates more nations joining.[9] Additional signatories can choose to directly participate in Artemis program activities, or may agree simply to commit to the principles for responsible exploration of the Moon as set out in the Accords.[10]

List of Parties[edit]

State Continent Signed Official signing
 Australia Oceania 13 Oct 2020 Dr. Megan Clark, Head of the Australian Space Agency[11]
 Canada North America 13 Oct 2020 Lisa Campbell, president of the Canadian Space Agency[12]
 Italy Europe 13 Oct 2020 Riccardo Fraccaro, Undersecretary of State at the Presidency of the Italian Council of Ministers[13]
 Japan Asia 13 Oct 2020 Hagiuda Koichi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Inoue Shinji, Minister of State for Space Policy [14]
 Luxembourg Europe 13 Oct 2020 Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy [15]
 United Arab Emirates Asia 13 Oct 2020 Sarah Al Amiri, Minister for Advanced Technology and Chair of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency[16]
 United Kingdom Europe 13 Oct 2020 Dr. Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency[17]

The signature of the UK has been extended to the Isle of Man on 27 July 2021[18]

 United States North America 13 Oct 2020 James Bridenstine, NASA Administrator
 Ukraine Europe 12 Nov 2020 [19]
 South Korea Asia 24 May 2021 Lim Hyesook, Minister of Science and ICT[20]
 New Zealand Oceania 31 May 2021 Peter Crabtree, New Zealand Space Agency[21]
 Brazil South America 15 Jun 2021 Marcos Pontes, Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation[22]
 Poland Europe 26 Oct 2021 Grzegorz Wrochna, president of Polish Space Agency (POLSA)[23]
 Mexico North America 9 Dec 2021 Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, Secretary of Foreign Affairs[24]
 Israel Asia 26 Jan 2022 Uri Oron, Director General of the Israel Space Agency[25]
 Romania Europe 1 Mar 2022 Marius-Ioan Piso, president and CEO of the Romanian Space Agency[26]
 Bahrain Asia 2 Mar 2022 Dr. Mohamed Al Aseeri, CEO of National Space Science Agency (NSSA)[27]
 Singapore Asia 28 Mar 2022 Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Trade and Industry[28]
 Colombia South America 10 May 2022 Marta Lucía Ramírez, Vice President and Foreign Minister [29]
 France Europe 7 Jun 2022 Philippe Baptiste, president of the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES)[30]
 Saudi Arabia Asia 14 Jul 2022 Mohammed bin Saud Al-Tamimi, CEO of the Saudi Space Commission[31]
 Nigeria Africa 13 Dec 2022 Isa Ali Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy [32]
 Rwanda Africa 13 Dec 2022 Francis Ngabo, CEO of Rwanda Space Agency [32]
 Czech Republic Europe 3 May 2023 Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs[33]
 Spain Europe 30 May 2023 Diana Morant, Minister of Science and Innovation[34]
 Ecuador South America 21 Jun 2023 Gustavo Manrique Miranda, Minister of Foreign Affairs [35]
 India Asia 22 Jun 2023 Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States [36]
 Argentina South America 27 Jul 2023 Daniel Filmus, Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation[37]
 Germany Europe 14 Sep 2023 Dr. Walther Pelzer, Director General of the German Space Agency at DLR[38]
 Iceland Europe 10 Oct 2023 [39][40]
 Netherlands Europe 1 Nov 2023 Harm van de Wetering, Director of Netherlands Space Office (NSO)[39]
 Bulgaria Europe 9 Nov 2023 Milena Stoycheva, Minister of Innovation and Growth[41]
 Angola Africa 30 Nov 2023 [42]
 Belgium Europe 23 Jan 2024 Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium [43]
 Greece Europe 9 Feb 2024 Giorgos Gerapetritis, Minister of Foreign Affairs[44]
 Uruguay South America 15 Feb 2024 [45]
  Switzerland Europe 15 April 2024 [46]
 Sweden Europe 16 April 2024 Dr. Mats Persson, Minister for Education [47]
 Slovenia Europe 19 April 2024 [48]
 Lithuania Europe 15 May 2024 Aušrinė Armonaitė, Minister of Economy and Innovation [49]
 Peru South America 30 May 2024 Javier González-Olaechea, Minister of Foreign Affairs [50]
 Slovakia Europe 30 May 2024
 Armenia Europe 12 Jun 2024 Mkhitar Hayrapetyan, Minister of High-Tech Industry[51]

History[edit]

On 5 May 2020, Reuters published an exclusive report that the Donald Trump administration was drafting a new international agreement for mining on the Moon, which would draw from the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.[52][53] Ten days later, then-NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine officially announced the Artemis Accords, a series of agreements with partner nations aimed at establishing a governing framework for exploring and mining the Moon.[54]

The Accords originated from the eponymous Artemis Program, an American plan launched in 2017 to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.[55] Bridenstine stated that the agreements were intended to create a uniform set of guidelines for countries to avoid potential conflict or misunderstanding in future space endeavors; governments that sign the Accords may formally take part in the Artemis Program.[55] The Accords were drafted by NASA, the U.S. Department of State, and the newly re-established National Space Council; a draft was released to several governments for consultation before the final document was announced in May 2020.[54][52]

On 13 October 2020, in a recorded and livestreamed ceremony, the Accords were signed by the directors of the national space agencies of the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.[5][56] The head of the Ukrainian national space agency signed the Accords exactly one month later.[19][57]

In 2021, South Korea became the tenth country to sign the Accords,[20][58] with New Zealand joining a week later.[21] The following June, Brazil became the first country in Latin America to join the Artemis Accords,[59] after previously indicating its intent to sign in 2020.[22][60] Poland signed the Accords at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Dubai, with the head of the Polish Space Agency expressing a desire to develop indigenous Polish space technology.[23] Mexico joined the Accords in December 2023.[24]

In 2022, the number of signatories of the Accords more than doubled from the previous year: Israel signed,[61] followed by Romania,[62] Bahrain,[63] and Singapore[64] in March; Colombia in May,[29] and France on 7 June 2022, the 60th anniversary of the founding of its space program[30] (pursuant to meetings in November 2021 between U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron in which he expressed France's intent to join).[65][66][67][68] Saudi Arabia signed the Accords on 14 July 2022, becoming the second Middle Eastern and Arab country to join.[31] On 13 December 2022, at the United States–Africa Leaders Summit, Rwanda and Nigeria became the first African nations to sign the Artemis Accords.[32][69]

Representatives from signatory nations held their first meeting on 19 September 2022 at the IAC to discuss the Accords and cooperation in space more broadly.[70][71]

In 2023, signatories to the accords continued to grow, including: the Czech Republic[72][33] and Spain[73] both signing within a single month, followed by Educador as well as India signing the accords[36] during prime minister Narendra Modi's state visit to the U.S.[74][75] In September 2023, Director General of the German Space Agency at DLR and Member of the DLR Executive Board Walther Pelzer, signed the Accords for Germany in the German embassy in Washington D.C. The ceremony was attended and witnessed as well by Space-Coordinator of the German Government, Anna Christmann, the current German ambassador in Washington, Andreas Michaelis as well as the Administrator of NASA, Bill Nelson.[76] Iceland, the Netherlands and Bulgaria joined in October/November 2023. Angola joined in December 2023 during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.[77]

In 2024, Belgium,[78] Greece,[79] Uruguay,[45] and Switzerland [80] joined the accords.

Accords[edit]

Although a prerequisite for taking part in the Artemis Program, the Accords have been interpreted as codifying key principles and guidelines for exploring space generally.[7] Their stated purpose is to "provide for operational implementation of important obligations contained in the Outer Space Treaty and other instruments." The Accords are a single document, signed by each country that commits to the Accords' principles. Bilateral agreements between space agencies for specific operations on the Moon and beyond are expected to reference the Accords and implement them in particular projects.

The provisions:[81]

  • Affirm that cooperative activities under these Accords should be exclusively for peaceful purposes and in accordance with relevant international law.
  • Confirm a commitment to transparency and to share scientific information, consistent with Article XI of the Outer Space Treaty.
  • Call for a commitment to use reasonable efforts to utilize current interoperability standards for space-based infrastructure, and to establish standards when they do not exist or are inadequate.
  • Call for a commitment to take all reasonable efforts to render necessary assistance to personnel in outer space who are in distress and according to their obligations under the Rescue and Return Agreement.
  • Specify responsibility for the registration of objects in space, as required by the Registration Convention
  • Call for a commitment to publicly share information on their activities and to the open sharing of scientific data. While doing so, signatories agree to coordinate with each other to provide appropriate protection for any proprietary and/or export-controlled information, and this provision does not extend to private sector operations unless conducted on behalf of a signatory.
  • Include an agreement to preserve outer space heritage, which they consider to comprise historically significant human or robotic landing sites, artifacts, spacecraft, and other evidence of activity, and to contribute to multinational efforts to develop practices and rules to do so.
  • Include an agreement that extraction and utilization of space resources should be conducted in a manner that complies with the Outer Space Treaty and in support of safe and sustainable activities. The signatories affirm that this does not inherently constitute national appropriation, which is prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty. They also express an intent to contribute to multilateral efforts to further develop international practices and rules on this subject.
  • Reaffirm the signatories commitment to the Outer Space Treaty's provisions relating to due regard and harmful interference with other nations' activities, and to provide information regarding the location and nature of space-based activities. Signatories express an intention to contribute to multilateral efforts to further develop international practices, criteria, and rules to assure this. To implement this, the Accords provide for the announcement of "safety zones", where other operations or an anomalous event could reasonably cause harmful interference. The size and scope of these safe zones should be based on the nature and environment of the operations involved and determined in a reasonable manner leveraging commonly accepted scientific and engineering principles. Within their safety zones, the signatories commit to respect the principle of free access to all areas of celestial bodies by others and all other provisions of the Outer Space Treaty.
  • Include a commitment to mitigate space debris and to limit the generation of new, harmful space debris in the normal operations, break-up in operational or post-mission phases, and accidents.

Reactions[edit]

Support[edit]

The Artemis Accords have generally been welcomed for advancing international law and cooperation in space.[7] Observers note that the substance of the Accords is "uncontentious" and represent a "significant political attempt to codify key principles of space law" for governing nations' space activities.[7] International legal scholars also credit the agreement with helping influence space exploration in the direction of uniform standards of cooperation and peaceful use.[82] The Accords have also been lauded for being the first time several nations have agreed to recognize the presence of human cultural heritage in outer space and the need to protect it.[83]

With Australia signing and ratifying both the Moon Treaty as well as the Artemis Accords, there has been a discussion if they can be harmonized.[84] In this light an Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty has been advocated for, as a way to compensate for the shortcomings of the Moon Treaty and to harmonize it with other laws, allowing it to be more widely accepted.[85][86]

Criticism[edit]

The Accords have also been criticized for allegedly being "too centered on American and commercial interests." Russia has condemned them as a "blatant attempt to create international space law that favors the United States."[87] Beside possibly being an opportunity for China in light of the Wolf Amendment, Chinese government affiliated media has called the Accords "akin to European colonial enclosure land-taking methods."[88] Russia and China have since reached an understanding to work together on the Chinese International Lunar Research Station concept, to serve as a potential competing option for third parties such as Pakistan.[89]

Two researchers writing in Science magazine's Policy Forum have called on countries to speak up about their objections, and argued that the United States should go through the United Nations treaty process in order to negotiate on space mining. They were concerned NASA's Accords, if accepted by many nations, would enable the Accords' interpretation of the Outer Space Treaty to prevail.[87] Acceptance of the Artemis Accords is a prerequisite for participation in NASA's Artemis lunar program.[87]

Critics also contend that since the Outer Space Treaty expressly forbids nations from staking claim to another planetary body, the Accords violate space law by allowing signatories to lay claim to any resources extracted from celestial objects.[90] Frans von der Dunk of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln claims the Accords strengthen "the US interpretation of the Outer Space Treaty", namely "the basic right for individual States to allow the private sector to become engaged" in commercial activities. The weakened alternative interpretation is that "unilateral approval of commercial exploitation is not in compliance with the Outer Space Treaty, and that only an international regime, notably—presumably—including an international licensing system, could legitimise such commercial exploitation."[91][92]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Except the Moon Treaty, despite Australia having ratified it. The Moon Treaty only has 17 State Parties, none of which has engaged in self-launched human spaceflight.

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