The Artemis Accords – A Quick Overview

Source: NASA

The purpose of the Accords is to establish a common vision via a practical set of principles, guidelines, and best practices to enhance the governance of the civil exploration and use of outer space with the intention of advancing the Artemis Program. Adherence to a practical set of principles, guidelines, and best practices in carrying out activities in outer space is intended to increase the safety of operations, reduce uncertainty, and promote the sustainable and beneficial use of space for all humankind. The Accords represent a political commitment to the principles described herein, many of which provide for operational implementation of important obligations contained in the Outer Space Treaty and other instruments.

The principles set out in the Accords are intended to apply to civil space activities conducted by the civil space agencies of each Signatory. These activities may take place on the Moon, Mars, comets, and asteroids, including their surfaces and subsurfaces, as well as in orbit of the Moon or Mars, in the Lagrangian points for the Earth-Moon system, and in transit between these celestial bodies and locations.

International Space Agreements

The Accords establishes alignment with the signatories on the following existing international space agreements:

Confirming the importance of compliance with the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, opened for signature on January 27, 1967 (“Outer Space Treaty“) as well as the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space, opened for signature on April 22, 1968 (“Rescue and Return Agreement“), the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, opened for signature on March 29, 1972 (“Liability Convention“), and the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space, opened for signature on January 14, 1975 (“Registration Convention“); as well as the benefits of coordination via multilateral forums, such as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (“COPUOS“), to further efforts toward a global consensus on critical issues regarding space exploration and use.

Confirming intention to implement the provisions of the Outer Space Treaty and other relevant international instruments and thereby establish a political understanding regarding mutually beneficial practices for the future exploration and use of outer space, with a focus on activities conducted in support of the Artemis Program.

Artemis Accord Principles

The Signatories intend to implement the principles set out in the Accords through their own activities by taking, as appropriate, measures such as mission planning and contractual mechanisms with entities acting on their behalf. The following is a summary of the principles:

Using space for peaceful purposes.

Open and transparent in the broad dissemination of: information regarding their national space policies; space exploration plans; and scientific information resulting from activities related to the Accords.

Designing and developing for interoperability across common exploration infrastructure and standards.

Taking all reasonable efforts to render necessary emergency assistance to personnel in outer space who are in distress.

Registration of space objects in accordance with the Registration Convention.

Preserving outer space heritage.

Agreement that the extraction of space resources does not inherently constitute national appropriation under Article II of the Outer Space Treaty.

Exploration and use of outer space to be consistent with the United Nations guidelines for long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

Agreement to refrain from any intentional actions that interfere with each other’s use of space.