NASA recently welcomed the newest signatories of the Artemis Accords as Spain, Ecuador, and India became the 25th, 26th, and 27th countries, respectively, to sign on to the historic agreement for cooperation and partnership for space exploration, specifically pertaining to NASA’s Artemis program.
NASA announced on May 30 that Spain had become the 25th country to sign the Artemis Accords, with the signing ceremony taking place at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain. The document was signed by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Spain’s science and innovation minister, Diana Morant, who signed on Spain’s behalf. Other key delegates in attendance included the NASA Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations, Karen Feldstein; the U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andora, Julissa Reynoso; and the President of Spain, Pedro Sánchez.
“Space is an example of international collaboration and a priority for our country’s vision,” said President Sánchez in the May 30 statement. “We are witnessing a commitment by the Government of Spain to a key sector that generates opportunities and high-quality employment, which is a priority and strategic area, essential to help and protect our society.”
This was followed up by NASA announcing on June 21 that Ecuador became the 26th country to sign the Artemis Accords, with the signing ceremony taking place at the Ecuador embassy in Washington DC. Karen Feldstein signed on behalf of NASA while Ecuador’s foreign affairs minister, Gustavo Manrique Miranda, signed on Ecuador’s behalf. Other key delegates in attendance included U.S. Department of State Director of the Office of Space Affairs, Valda Vikmanis Keller; Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States, Ivonne A-Baki; and Ecuador Minster of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries, Julio José Prado.
“Signing the Artemis Accords sends a powerful message to the international community that the Ecuadorian government is committed to pursue cutting-edge efforts in technology and is open to innovation, investment, workforce development to promote sustainable growth, and international collaboration to help solve humanity’s greatest challenges,” said Ivonne Baki in the June 21 statement.
Just days later and most recently, NASA announced on June 23 that India became the 27th country to sign the Artemis Accords, with the signing ceremony taking place at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington DC. Bill Nelson signed on behalf on NASA and India’s ambassador to the United States, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, signed on India’s behalf. Other key delegates in attendance included U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary for India, Nancy Jackson, and Indian Space Research Organization, Space Counsellor, Krunal Joshi.
“India is taking a landmark step in becoming a party to the Artemis Accords, a momentous occasion for our bilateral space cooperation,” Sandhu said in the June 23 statement. “We reiterate India’s commitment to space exploration underpinned by new levels of cooperation and progress. India is a responsible space power and places the highest importance on the peaceful and sustainable use of outer space. We are confident that the Artemis Accords will advance a rule-based approach to outer space. It also underlines our collective belief that exploration is not just the pursuit of knowledge – of knowing the unknown – but is a catalyst in advancing the betterment of humanity. In that sense, signing of these Accords highlights the evolution of a partnership into one for global good.”
The Artemis Accords were established in 2020 as an international cooperative effort to ensure safe and prosperous lunar exploration that currently consist of 27 nation signatories and seven founding nations (in alphabetical order): Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Examples of the principles laid out by the Artemis Accords include conducting lunar exploration through peaceful purposes, transparency, interoperability, emergency assistance, registration of space objects, public release of scientific data, protecting heritage, space resources, orbital debris and spacecraft disposal, deconfliction of activities.
The Artemis Accords comes as NASA’s Artemis program aims to land the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface later this decade with the Artemis III mission, which is currently planned to occur in late 2025. After the successful launch of the uncrewed Artemis I mission in November 2022, the four-person Artemis II crew is currently scheduled to launch in November 2024 on a 10-day mission to orbit our nearest celestial neighbor while testing the Orion capsule’s equipment and systems.
How many more countries will sign the Artemis Accords in the coming months and years, and how will it help shape the Artemis program for the long-term? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!