Eight nations have signed on to become founding members of NASA’s Artemis Accords, an international agreement that establishes how countries can cooperate to peacefully and responsibly conduct exploration of the moon.
NASA announced Tuesday that the United States signed the accords and Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agreement would establish a “singular global coalition” to guide future expeditions to the moon.
“With today’s signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy,” Bridenstine said in a statement released Tuesday.
NASA developed the Artemis Accords to partner with other nations to set basic principles to guide robotic and crewed lunar exploration. The agreement’s name refers to NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send astronauts, including the first woman, to the moon by 2024.
The accords include provisions for peaceful exploration, safety, transparency, sustainable use of space resources, cooperation to build and operate spacecraft and other hardware, and the management and disposal of orbital debris.
“Fundamentally, the Artemis Accords will help to avoid conflict in space and on Earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions,” Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations, said in a statement. “The Artemis journey is to the moon, but the destination of the Accords is a peaceful and prosperous future.”
The Artemis Accords build on another major international agreement known as the Outer Space Treaty, enacted in 1967. The Outer Space Treaty bans nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in space. It establishes that space exploration, the moon, and other celestial bodies should only be for peaceful purposes.