The American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Tuesday a pact with seven countries, which it has baptized as the Artemis Accords, which establishes a series of rules for exploring the Moon.
The nations that have signed the agreement with the US are Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the United Kingdom.
“These are principles that we have all agreed upon and that begin with the basic principle contained in the Outer Space Treaty that we are going to explore space peacefully, we believe that this is very important,” the administrator of the university stressed in a telematic press conference. NASA, Jim Bridenstine. “And the first step in a peaceful exploration of space is to make sure nations are transparent,” he added.
Another principle is “interoperability”, that is, “how we do things when we interact with each other as independent nations, but at the same time how we work together to do things that we could not do alone but together,” Bridenstine explained. In that sense, he specified that this point would contemplate situations in which countries provide help if the astronauts of another nation have a problem.
Registration of spatial objects
Another of the provisions, which Bridenstine considered one of the most important of the Artemis agreements, is the registration of space objects. “Of course we think in terms of orbital positions or objects that go to specific orbits through space, but it is also important that we record what we are sending to the Moon and what is being sent to Mars,” he said.
In sum, with these agreements “we are joining with our partners to explore the Moon and establish vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful and prosperous future in space for all humanity to enjoy,” Bridenstine said.
Among those absent from this pact is Russia, which has decided not to participate in it, describing it as “too American-centric”. In this regard, Bridenstine, who did not rule out that more countries could join the initiative, expressed his hope that Russia would join in one day.
20 years of cooperation with Russia
“I remain hopeful that Russia will join the Artemis agreements, and even if it does not join, that they will comply with the principles set out in them because what we are doing is making operational what is agreed in the Outer Space Treaties,” he said. In that sense, he recalled that next month will celebrate “twenty years of American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts living and working together in space”, something that he described as “an incredible milestone.”
The US space agency is in a rush to set a precedent by shaping a legal regime that explicitly authorizes private companies to operate on other stars in a protected manner.
The head of the Russian space agency, Dimitri Rogozin, said Monday that Artemis’s program to return to the Moon was too “US-centric.”
Two American astronauts, including a woman, will walk on the Moon in 2024 during the Artemis 3 mission, and NASA wants to involve other countries in the construction of the mini-station that will go into lunar orbit starting in 2023. “Artemis will be the program. largest and most diverse manned exploration international in history, and the Artemis Accords will be the vehicle for establishing this unique global coalition, “Bridenstine said.
The agreements list ten principles, such as transparency of activities, interoperability of national systems, the obligation to catalog all space objects, assistance to an astronaut in distress, the exchange of scientific data and the proper management of space debris.
But the text becomes more controversial when considering the possibility that countries create “safe zones” to protect their activities on a celestial body, for example the extraction of resources, such as water at the south pole of the Moon. The 1967 treaty prohibits any “national appropriation by proclamation of sovereignty, neither by way of use nor by any other means.
But NASA relies on another treaty article banning any activity that “causes potentially harmful discomfort” to justify creating these safe zones, while reaffirming the primacy of the space treaty.