Science

What is Artemis Accords?

Artemis Accords is a set of statements that outlines the general principles, guidelines and best practices applicable to the safe exploration of the Moon and ultimately beyond as humanity increases the duration of space missions and its reach to Mars.

While NASA is leading the Artemis program, which aims to usher in a new era of space exploration and send the first woman and man of color to the moon in 2024, international partnerships with numerous countries and private companies are vital to its success.

The purpose of the NASA-initiated agreements is to establish a common set of principles to ensure the responsible execution of missions under the Artemis mission umbrella.

Related: 10 best images of NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission

Under the leadership of NASA and the US State Department, the Artemis Accords are signed at the national, not the organizational level, and signatory countries do so on a voluntary basis.

“Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and Artemis Accords is the vehicle that will create this unique global coalition,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in 2020. (will open in a new tab) when the contracts were signed. “With today’s signing, we are joining forces with our partners to explore the Moon and are setting vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful and prosperous future in space for all mankind.”

Origins of the Artemis Accords

At the heart of Artemis missions is the SLS, the most powerful rocket ever built by mankind, on the launch pad, ready to make history. (Image credit: NASA) (will open in a new tab)

One of the key principles of the Artemis Accords is the reaffirmation of the importance for nations to comply with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (or Treaty on Principles for the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, to give it its full name).

In addition, the agreements confirm the importance of the 1968 Rescue and Return Agreement, which emphasizes the responsibility of States for the safe return of astronauts and equipment to Earth, as well as further space-related policies such as the 1972 Liability Convention and the Convention on registration in 1975.

The Artemis Accords were first launched and signed by eight countries in October 2020, and representatives of the signatory countries met in person for the first time at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris on September 19, 2022.

In terms of scope, the agreements cover activities in orbit, on the surface and in the bowels of the Moon, Mars, comets and asteroids. It also covers stable orbital points, known as the Lagrange points for the Earth-Moon system, and applies to objects in transit between these celestial bodies and places.

What do Artemis Accords say?

In Artemis Chords document (will open in a new tab)NASA sets out the key principles of the Artemis Accords as follows:

  • Peaceful Space Exploration: Countries agree that all activities conducted under the Artemis program must be carried out for peaceful purposes in accordance with international law.
  • Transparency: Signatory countries should conduct their business in a transparent manner, in the hope that this will prevent both confusion and conflict. This also applies to signatories exchanging scientific information in good faith with the public and the international scientific community. Signers must apply this even to competing projects, and they are expected to coordinate the release of studies and articles with each other. The agreements state: “The Artemis Accords signatories commit to publish scientific information, allowing the entire world to join us on the Artemis journey.”
  • Compatibility: The agreements state that countries participating in the Artemis program should strive to develop and maintain systems that can work in conjunction with existing infrastructure, which we hope will increase both the safety of space operations and the sustainability of these missions.
  • Emergency Assistance: Artemis Accords signatories pledge to provide assistance to astronauts and spacewalkers in distress.
  • Registration of space objects: The countries participating in Artemis must determine which of them should register any relevant space object.
  • Heritage Preservation: Artemis Accords signatories are committed to preserving humanity’s space heritage. This includes sites of historical significance, such as human or robotic landing sites, artifacts, spacecraft, and other evidence of activity on other celestial bodies.
  • Space Resources: The signatories of the agreement affirm that the extraction and use of the space resources of the celestial bodies listed above is vital to supporting the safe and sustainable development of space. They also undertake to keep the UN Secretary-General, the public and the scientific community informed about space mining activities.
  • De-Conflict Activities: Artemis Accords member countries commit to prevent harmful interference and uphold the principle of due respect. This also includes the creation of so-called “security zones” with territories that can be established between countries and which can be terminated after the cessation of the respective operations.
  • Orbital Debris: Artemis Accords member countries are committed to planning for safe, timely and efficient debris removal as part of the mission planning process. The signatories of the agreements also agree that they must limit the generation of new long-lived or harmful waste. This includes the safe disposal of space structures during the post-operation phase of missions.
  • Which countries participate in the Artemis Accords?

    A graphic illustrating countries that are currently subscribed to the Artemis Accord. (Image credit: NASA) (will open in a new tab)

    As of this writing, NASA reports that 23 countries have signed the Artemis Accord, including the US, UK, Japan, Italy, Canada, and Brazil. On December 13, 2022, at the American-African Space Forum held in Washington, DC, Nigeria and Rwanda became the first African countries to sign the agreements.

    According to NASA (will open in a new tab) As of January 3, 2023, the countries that have signed the Artemis Accords are as follows:

    • Australia
    • Bahrain
    • Brazil
    • Canada
    • Colombia
    • France
    • Israel
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Luxembourg
    • mexico city
    • New Zealand
    • Nigeria
    • Poland
    • The Republic of Korea
    • Romania
    • Rwanda
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Singapore
    • Ukraine
    • United Arab Emirates
    • United Kingdom
    • United States of America

    Additional Resources

    The Artemis mission represents humanity’s next exciting step in space exploration with a focus on diversity. To read how the mission will go (will open in a new tab) visit the NASA Artemis website. Artemis is in many ways the natural successor to the Apollo program, which also brought humanity to the moon. Learn more about the Apollo missions with these NASA resources. (will open in a new tab). here.

    Bibliography

    Agreements of Artemis, [Accessed 01/03/23], [https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis-accords/img/Artemis-Accords-signed-13Oct2020.pdf (opens in new tab)]

    Artemis Accords, Artemis NASA, [Accessed 01/03/23], [https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis-accords/index.html (opens in new tab)

    The Artemis Accords, Gov.co.uk, [Accessed 01/03/23]https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-artemis-accords (will open in a new tab)

    Gateway Memorandum of Understanding and Artemis Agreements – Frequently Asked Questions, ESA, [Accessed 01/03/23]https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Gateway_MoU_and_Artemis_Accords_FAQs (will open in a new tab)

    First Meeting of Artemis Accords Signatories, U.S. Department of State, [Accessed 01/03/23], [https://www.state.gov/first-meeting-of-artemis-accords-signatories (opens in new tab)]

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