NASA today declared that 8countries including the United States have signed an international agreement known as the Artemis Accords. It is a broad and heterogeneous alliance of nations committed to standardized lunar exploration according to NASA.
NASA wanted to form the Artemis Accords during May, after working with the US State Department and the National Space Council. They were intended to formulate a draft set of rules for exploring the Moon. The document is named after NASA’s Artemis program. It is a promising initiative that intends to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon. NASA hopes to collaborate with several countries for the program, and they created the Artemis Accords so that other nations are on the same page regarding the best practices for sending robots and people to the lunar surface.
NASA released the draft of the agreement to other space-faring countries, and according to their inputs, they finalized the document, that includes standards for lunar mining and conflict handling on the lunar surface. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine claims that the primary objective is to ensure that all share the common objective about lunar exploration and avert any probable international misunderstandings or conflicts.
The seven nations that have signed the treaty along with the US are Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. NASA sources claim to have spoken with other countries too for signing. However, only these seven nations were able to complete the interagency process the fastest. It may so happen that more countries could be signing on to the accords shortly. NASA authorities are hopeful that it may happen before the end of the year.
As of now, the Artemis Accords are only a set of guidelines, devoid of defined enforcement mechanisms of any kind. No real consequences if a nation signs the contract and doesn’t adhere to one of the provisions. However, the participation of other nations would ensure that countries behave in accordance with the accords.