Published On: Sat, May 16th, 2020

NASA news: Space agency sets out its core principles for Artemis lunar mission | World | News

The US Space Agency has always recognised that international cooperation will be vital if its Artemis programme is to succeed. Artemis is the ambitious project to land two astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2024, as a precursor to establishing a permanent human lunar settlement by 2028. On Friday, NASA officials revealed the core values underpinning its mission in a document called the Artemis Accords, which stress the peaceful nature of its exploration.

In a tweet, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote: “It’s a new dawn for space exploration!

“Today I’m honored to announce the #Artemis Accords agreements — establishing a shared vision and set of principles for all international partners that join in humanity’s return to the Moon.

“We go, together.”

In accordance with principles enshrined in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, NASA said its over-riding vision was to “create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy.”

The outer Space Treaty (OST) is the founding document of international space law.

It has been ratified by more than 100 countries, including the United States and other leading space powers.

The OTS stipulates that space exploration should be carried out for peaceful purposes only.

Artemis partners will also be required to be completely transparent about their activities, which means publicly disclosing their exploration plans and policies as well as sharing their scientific data.

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Signatories to the Accords will likewise pledge to protect historic sites and artefacts on the moon and other cosmic locales, as well as to help keep space-junk levels down.

The programme will involve not only foreign space agencies, but also the participation of private companies.

Private moon landers will ferry NASA science and technology experiments to the lunar surface beginning next year, if all goes according to plan.

NASA astronauts will touch down aboard landers built by commercial companies.

One such company to win a contract to build the landers is Elon Musk’s SpaceX .

SpaceX’s proposal centres on its huge Starship vehicle, which the company is already developing to help colonize Mars.

Starship will launch off Earth atop a huge rocket called Super Heavy, but the spacecraft will land on, and launch off, the moon and Mars on its own.

The other companies awarded contracts, worth a total of $967 million for 10 months of work, are Blue Origin and Dynetics.

At the time of the contract awards, Jim Bridenstine said: “With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface.

“This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program.”

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