India signs the US-led Artemis Accords


  • India has become the 27th signatory of the three-year-old Artemis Accords.

    • As of June 29, 2023, twenty-seven countries and one territory have signed the accords, including ten in Europe, eight in Asia, three in North America, three in South America, two in Oceania and two in Africa.

Artemis Accords - Wikipedia

About Artemis Accords

  • The Accords have been signed by 26 countries till now, including Japan, Australia, the UK, France, and Canada.
  • A set of 13 principles, the Artemis Accords is closely linked to the Artemis Program, which aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface, build a space camp there, and carry out deep space exploration.
  • The Artemis Accords document which contains a set of principles and guidelines for the civil exploration and use of the Moon, Mars, comets and asteroids was introduced in 2020 by NASA as the basis for seeking international support and partners for advancing the 2018 US Artemis Program.
  • The Artemis Program concerns off-Earth exploration and commercial mining of planetary resources and for long term human presence on the Moon and Mars. I believe the program’s first phase will comprise space missions that will not only carry out scientific experiments but also involve landing humans on the Moon and explore the potential of commercial mining of planetary resources.
  • Essentially, the Artemis Program is the national program of the USA for advancing its next phase of space activities beyond Earth Orbit.
  • The off-Earth commercial exploitation of planetary resources is something which we first heard in 2015 when the US passed a domestic law to provide rights to private citizens to extract, own and bring back such asteroid or lunar resources they might commercially exploit.
  • There was a fair amount of international conversation around it and whether the US law was consistent with Article II of the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits national appropriation of space resources by claims of sovereignty, by use, by occupation or by any other means.

How can signing the Artemis Accords benefit India?

  • The Accords could fast-track India’s human spaceflight capabilities and ambitions, and do so cost-effectively, via collaborations with not just the US but other members of the Accords as well.
  • As NASA is providing crew seats to Japan, Europe, and Canada in return for their respective Gateway contributions, India might also work its way towards one too. Being an Accords signee will certainly be of aid here.
  • Moreover, the Accords could finally help catalyse a strong NASA-ISRO collaboration with India’s Chandrayaan 2 lunar orbiter providing advanced orbital data to help plan upcoming robotic and crewed Artemis missions.
  • For India, such a collaboration would mean the country’s budding planetary science community gets infused with a wealth of LRO-derived operational and scientific knowledge.
  • More importantly, it would lend India via the Accords a seat on the table for prospecting resources on the Moon, ultimately helping shape the governance of their extraction as and when it becomes a reality.
  • Another development to look for could be the Indo-Japanese LUPEX Moon rover mission, which is targeted for launch in the 2026–2028 timeframe to study the nature, abundance, and accessibility of water ice on the Moon’s south pole.
    • The mission is similar yet complementary to NASA’s VIPER rover, and will now most certainly feed into the critical data on which future crewed Artemis missions will bank on—seeing that both Japan and India are signatories of the Accords now.


  •  ISRO’s aspiring upcoming space science missions have been facing nothing but delays due to budget shortages and overshadowing priorities.
  • While India’s new space policy does explicitly encourage ISRO to undertake “missions on in-situ resource utilisation, celestial prospecting and other aspects of extra-terrestrial habitability”, failure to increase such science and technology outputs for real wouldn’t allow India to sufficiently leverage the Accords for helping shape our future at the Moon.

Source: IE

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