Germany became the 29th country to sign the U.S.-led Artemis Accords today. The Accords set non-binding governance principles for operations on the Moon. The heads of NASA and Germany’s space agency heralded the event as furthering international space cooperation and opening opportunities for industry as well as science.
Germany, France and Italy are the three European countries with the largest space programs and the top financial contributors to the 22-nation European Space Agency. Italy was one of the original eight countries to sign the Accords in October 2020. France joined in June 2022. With the addition of Germany, nine ESA members have now signed.
Countries from all six continents that have governments — Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America — are signatories. (Antarctica does not have a government.)
Initially a linkage was expected between signing the Accords and participating in the Artemis program, but currently any country is welcome to join.
Germany is already part of the Artemis program as a member of ESA, which provides the Service Module for the Orion spacecraft and will jointly build the Gateway lunar space station with NASA and Japan.
At a signing event this evening, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he was “thrilled to welcome Germany to the Artemis Accords family” as one of NASA’s “oldest and most capable international partners.”
Walther Pelzer, Director General of Germany’s space agency, DLR, said it “gives a further boost” to that cooperation. The Accords “offer a multitude of new opportunities for industry and scientific research in Germany – and ultimately also across Europe.”
Mike Gold, who was instrumental in creating the Artemis Accords when he was at NASA, told SpacePolicyOnline.com tonight that having the three largest ESA contributors on board sends a positive message about the future of space.
“As a political commitment, the power of the Accords comes from the diversity and unity of its signatories. Germany signing unifies the largest contributors to ESA and sends an unqualified message to all nations that this unprecedented coalition of countries stand united in support of a peaceful and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy.”
Now with Redwire, he emphasized that the Accords not only build on the principles in the 1967 U.N. Outer Space Treaty, but make them more meaningful.
“The Outer Space Treaty is an incredible document that is as relevant today as it was in 1967. However, without the Artemis Accords, which implement the obligations of the Treaty, it’s just words on paper. I’m thrilled that Germany is joining the Artemis Accords family of nations to ensure that the work of the United Nations transitions from concept to reality.”
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