Artemis Accords signatories meet for the first time

The US-led agreement outlines responsible space exploration

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Signatories of the Artemis Accords, an international agreement led by the US that sets guidelines for responsible space exploration, met in-person for the first time on Monday at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris.

There are 21 signatories of the accords, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

China, Russia and India — all countries with a strong space programme — have yet to sign the agreement.

The accords aim to ensure responsible behaviour in space, especially the Moon, as countries look to launch crewed exploration missions to the its surface and to acquire lunar resources.

It is not yet legally binding and serves only as a framework for countries.

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, attended the signatories’ meeting on behalf of the UAE.

“During this meeting, heads of space agencies discussed future plans in the industry to ensure the safety of humans and deconfliction of activities on the Moon, as well as the importance of the Accords to emerging space nations,” she said.

The UAE signed the accords in October 2020 and is working towards realising its long-term Moon exploration ambitions.

Its goals include developing and launching a number of rovers and orbiters to the Moon, as well as plans to send an Emirati to the surface.

Mike Gold, the former acting associate administrator for Nasa's Office of International and Interagency Relations, in 2020 told The National that the Artemis partnership lays the groundwork for partner countries to collaborate on lunar missions.

“The UAE can, and we hope will, become a strong and robust partner in the Artemis programme,” said Mr Gold, referring to a project that seeks to establish a human base on the Moon.

“We look forward to collaborating not only on lunar rovers, but on other forms of science and orbiters, and eventually human spaceflight as well.

“The UAE is not only ambitious, but it follows ambitions with funding and actions, which is why they are such an excellent partner for us to join in this unprecedented journey of discovery that is.”

Last year, the UAE Space Agency and Nasa held meetings to discuss the Artemis programme.

Updated: September 19, 2022, 2:49 PM