The UK Space Agency, NASA and other partners have signed a historic agreement on principles for space ahead of a future mission to the Moon.
NASA’s Artemis programme aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. Commercial and international partners will collaborate to achieve a sustainable presence on the lunar surface as a steppingstone to the first human mission to Mars.
The UK will play a key role in this mission. Businesses across the UK will be involved in building the service module and habitation module of the Lunar Gateway, a new space station orbiting the moon, generating economic benefits and high-skilled jobs. The UK has already committed over £16 million for the first phase of the design of these elements.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
With numerous countries and companies conducting operations in space it is vital to establish a set of principles to govern the civil exploration and use of outer space.
The US worked with the UK, along with other spacefaring nations including Japan, Australia, Canada, Italy and the UAE, to develop the Artemis Accords, a set of principles to ensure a shared understanding of safe operations, use of space resources, minimising space debris and sharing scientific data.
James Cleverly, Minister for Defence and International Security at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said:
While NASA is leading the Artemis programme, international partnerships with countries including the UK will play a key role in achieving a safe and sustainable human presence on the Moon.
UK Space Agency CEO Graham Turnock, who signed the Artemis Accords during a virtual ceremony at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), said:
International cooperation on Artemis is intended not only to bolster space exploration but to enhance peaceful relationships between nations. At the core of the Artemis Accords is the requirement that all activities will be conducted for peaceful purposes, in line with the Outer Space Treaty.
Sustaining human life for long periods of time on space missions is a significant challenge and one that requires resources such as water, building materials and fuel. As transporting these resources into space is expensive, a key enabler of future missions will be the ability to extract and use resources from the Moon, asteroids or Mars. The UK has worked with international partners to ensure the Artemis Accords are clear that any such resource extraction in space should be carried out in a manner that complies with the Outer Space Treaty.