On Tuesday, June 7, 2022, France joined the future exploration program for the Moon promoted by the United States, by signing the “Artemis Chords” what particular plan to create “safe areas” to protect extraterrestrial resources.
France thus becomes the twentieth country (after Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, etc. in particular) to join this new wave of peaceful exploration of space, says the National Center for Space Studies (CNES), the French space agency.
Its executive director, Philippe Baptiste, signed in Washington, in the presence of NASA administrator Bill Nelson, the text of the declaration known as “Artemis Chords”. The US program of the same name aims to return astronauts to the Moon around 2025, more than 50 years after the historic landing of the Apollo 11 mission. To eventually establish a lasting human presence there.
Future activities on the Moon, Mars or asteroids
It also foresees the construction of a station to be mounted in lunar orbit from 2024, the Lunar Gateway, a future springboard for more distant manned flights.
The Artemis Accords are a set of bilateral agreements with the United States, which are based on the 1967 international treaty governing outer space.
“Both for our scientific community and for our industry, this new framework will allow us to face new challenges and continue to count among the great space powers”welcomed Philippe Baptiste, quoted in a press release.
The signatory countries adhere to a dozen principles applicable to their future activities on the Moon, but also on Mars or asteroids: transparency of missions, interoperability of systems, assistance to personnel in case of danger, exchange of scientific data, preservation of historical sites…
A more controversial measure foresees the possibility of delimiting “safe areas” to avoid “harmful interference” by a third party, in particular to protect the exploitation of resources, such as lunar water. And this while the 1967 treaty prohibits any “national property” of these resources.
“According to our analysis, the Artemisa agreements are not in contradiction with the 1967 treaty”saying AFP Pascale Ultré-Guérard, Deputy Director of Programs of the CNES Strategy Department.
The text allows “cement” France’s commitment to lunar exploration, he added. For example, Thales Alenia Space will design the Lunar Gateway’s Esprit refueling and communication module in France.
The text, presented by the United States in 2020, has not been signed by either China or Russia, which plan to build their own lunar station together.
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