Space affects us all, it connects us all, and until very recently, it was the remit of a very few nations.
Enter, the Artemis Accords. Established in 2020 among eight founding signatories, the Artemis Accords are a non-binding set of principles – grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 – that set out how we will live and work together in space. Demonstrating the best of multilateral leadership in civil space diplomacy, we are now at 21 signatories (and expect more to be joining soon!), committed to the exploration and use of space for peaceful purposes.
The Artemis Accords belong to each signatory, and they present an opportunity for all of us to serve as ambassadors for the responsible, peaceful use of space. The Accords are a tangible example of diplomacy fostering the kind of future we hope to build both in outer space, and right here on Earth. A future predicated on cooperation, consultation, and equitable access to an enormous, untapped resource.
An important milestone was our first in-person meeting of Artemis Accords signatories, which took place in Paris, France, during the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) this September. At this meeting, co-hosted by the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), French Space Agency (CNES), and United States (Department of State and NASA), representatives from nineteen of the twenty-one signatory nations gathered to discuss next steps to advance the Accords.
Signatories deliberated the near-term need to use the Accords as a means of deconfliction of activities on the Moon and to help ensure the safety of humans and spacecraft. Representatives also spoke on the importance of leveraging and contributing to multilateral efforts – for example, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) – to better develop international practices and rules for human exploration, building on the operational expertise that will be gained from the Artemis program. And, as many signatories articulated so well, participants agreed space activities that represent the enormous diversity of the people on this planet will not only help us accomplish our objectives in a way that is ambitious, responsible, and inclusive, but will also help to ensure objectives in space exploration best represent the needs and interests of both established and emerging spacefaring nations.
The Artemis Accords, at only two years old, already bear witness to the dynamic interests and capabilities of nations across the world. Some are contributing to the Artemis program already. Others are focused on space-based earth observation. Still others are using satellite technology to improve our ability to monitor and assess the climate crisis. Our space future demands this diversity and cooperation.
As we enter the third year of the Artemis Accords and continue to catalyze humanity’s journey back to the Moon and onwards to Mars, one idea – that space activities should be carried out sustainably for the benefit of all humanity – is, I believe, the north star for our work on the Artemis Accords. The United States remains committed to implementing, sharing, and expanding their reach, and I thank all current and future signatories for lending their voices to this monumental endeavor, and to space diplomacy.