NASA is leading the Artemis program, which includes sending the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon in 2024. With today's signing, we are joining forces with our partners to explore the Moon and establishing vital principles that will create a secure, peaceful and prosperous future in space for all of humanity.
The announcement coincides with this year's online IAC conference, which has been attended virtually by the heads of all of the major space agencies due to the ongoing pandemic.
A different global framework, the Outer Space Treaty, has been ratified by over 100 countries but does not set rules on resource extraction, while the United Nations' so-called Moon Agreement bars individuals and businesses from claiming possession of celestial bodies but has not been ratified by leading spacefaring countries such as the United States, Russia, China and Japan.
Any countries that violate the accords will be asked to depart from the program. NASA is prohibited under law, at least for now, from signing any bilateral agreements with China. But NASA believes that the wording in the agreement is not specific enough, which may lead to difficulties in the future. The pact also has rules on the extraction and use of space resources.
Other principles include affirming that they will render assistance to each other in case of emergency, make their scientific data public, preserve the heritage of outer space and plan for the safe disposal of space debris.
"The Artemis Accords are an important achievement for safe and sustainable space exploration", Campbell said in a statement.
The terms set in the Artemis Accords apply for moon exploration in this decade and set the precedent for a historic expedition to Mars in the 2030s. "We're moving very fast".
However, not everyone seems onboard with NASA's plans.
The signing was made during the International Astronautical Congress, but Russian Federation has not yet signed on, with CNN reporting that a Kremlin official said they feel the accords are still too "U.S. -centric".
Instead, Rogozin, advocated for an agreement to extend the lifetime of the International Space Station to 2028 or 2030, adding that the ISS was a "truly international project". In addition, China, another space power, is among the countries that do not have a signature in the agreements.