Luxembourg joins the Artemis Accords

On Tuesday October 13, 2020, at the 71st International Aeronautical Congress, the NASA announced the signature of the Artemis Accords, a series of bilateral agreements establishing rules for the peaceful and responsible exploration of the Moon and Mars. The Minister of Economy of Luxembourg, Franz Fayot, signed the Accords on behalf of the Grand Duchy, along with the signatories of the other participating countries (United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom). More countries have shown interest in joining the coalition.

The Accords aims at establishing principles governing the participation in the NASA’s Artemis program, under which the NASA is planning to explore the Moon, in 2024, and to establish a sustainable human presence, on and around it, by the end of the decade – effectively enabling future missions to Mars.

The rules for peaceful and responsible exploration include transparency, interoperability of hardware and registration of space objects. They also require participating countries to aid astronauts in need, publish scientific data in a timely manner, preserve the heritage (for instance the “Apollo landing sites”) and safely dispose of debris.

To operate the program, the NASA is counting on important contributions from private companies. The Accords will allow them to extract lunar resources. The current focus of interest is the water ice found on the lunar south pole. This water could provide life support for astronauts and its constituents could be used to make rocket fuel.

The NASA also intends to establish an orbital space station called Gateway.

Luxembourg’s strategy has long been to strengthen the space sector and it has become a leading global player in that field. Luxembourg’s efforts include the adoption of the Act on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources, in 2017, the launch of an investment fund, focusing on space start-ups with disruptive technologies, products and services and the opening, in Luxembourg, of the European Space Resources Innovation, by the end of 2020. The Artemis Accords integrate very well with the Grand Duchy’s strategy and the country is proud to be one of its eight founding members.

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