Why France’s signing of the Artemis agreement is the most important yet

As Sciencepost reported a few days ago, France has officially signed the NASA Artemis agreement. my country is considered one of the pillars of aerospace, and this signing brings the number of countries involved to 20. However, this needs to be convincing.

When the Trump administration launched the Artemis Accords in October 2020, only eight countries, including the United States, made a formal commitment. Since then, some glaring absences have been felt. China and Russia, the world’s two largest space superpowers, have yet to sign, and may never sign. The other two major space nations, France and Germany, did not join either. Finally, our country is now in the game.

As such, France is today considered the most important signatory of the agreement to date.Remember, our country is first contributor ESA’s budget. The United States also has a long-term partnership with the French space agency. National Research Center. Finally, France plays a central role in the operation of the launch site and the rockets of the main European launch suppliers, Arianespace.

Having France on the same wavelength as us is crucial in our lunar exploration and other programs, as it is a major player in Europe vs. Germany“, in particular, said NASA senior policy advisor Gabriel Sweeney.

legal ambiguity

If France needs time, it’s because our leaders don’t don’t fully believe At the beginning. The Artemis Accords are indeed built on the pillars of international space law: Outer Space Treaty Entered into force in 1967. Under the treaty, signatories commit to peaceful exploration of space and do not claim sovereignty over celestial bodies or send weapons of mass destruction into orbit. However, this legal framework is always somewhat vague and therefore open to interpretation.

Therefore, the Artemis protocol goes further by proposing stricter standards. On the moon, for example, the agreement defines a “safe zone.” Specifically, a country that will be working on an area of ​​the lunar surface must notify other countries. Therefore, the latter will not be able to intervene in this area. The agreements also call for the protection of heritage, such as the landing sites of the Apollo missions.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and CNES President Philip Baptiste signed the Artemis Accords. Credits: NASA/Keegan Barber

problem of exploitation

Countries will also be able to mine materials on the moon, which can then be used in lunar exploration efforts. It is this concept of the use of space resources that is considered by some, notably France, to conflict with the Outer Space Treaty’s directive not to claim sovereignty over celestial bodies.

France is one of the countries that has made it clear that space resources are a real problem that the international community must address Take time to reflectcontinued Gabriel Sweeney” France fears this could turn into a real gold rush, or that some of the inequalities observed on Earth could also occur in space“.

NASA and U.S. government officials have cooperated with the French space agency on the various concerns raised. In the end, everyone agreed. ” they are need to be clear Some questions about the Artemis agreement“, the researchers continued.” It now appears that these doubts have been dispelled, an agreement is given A major seal of approval for a once skeptical country“.

The next great European conquest will be Germany, the second largest contributor to ESA. India, which is occupying more and more space in the space sector, would also be a particularly popular signatory.

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