Outer space diplomacy: the Artemis Accords

The Artemis Accords is a set of rules that include old conventions, as well as a handful of new regulations. Up until now, the treaty includes only general factors, which will probably be changed throughout negotiations in the upcoming months. NASA has decided to publish an overview of the company’s beliefs to make its point straight to the large public.

The rules that have just been implemented include:

  • Describe the future plans and policies without any biases;
  • Contribute to the development of “Safety Zones” by providing the necessary credentials, such as location or ongoing operations;
  • Release all the scientific resources in a timely manner;
  • Protect the natural environment on the Moon;
  • Minimize orbital debris by disposing of spacecrafts at the end of their lives

As you can tell from these measures, each one comes with its own set of questions that must be solved. For example, what exactly means “transparent” in this context? What kind of missions have to be made available to the general public and in what timeframe? Who is able to determine whether something has historical value?

This discussion will take a long time before a consensus is reached, but it is good that some baselines are set. It is a quintessential part of space exploration.

At the same time, the accords also reestablish the validity of NASA’s commitment to the treaties and guidelines that have already been put into place. NASA and the agencies it is partnered with pledge to do the following:

  • Perform activities strictly for peaceful purposes, as stated in the Outer Space Treaty
  • Take a number of steps in order to offer assistance to astronauts in distress, as stated in the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts
  • Register any and all objects that are sent into space
  • Perform safe resource extraction and utilization, as mentioned in the Outer Space Treaty Articles II, VI and XI

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