France to sign US-led moon exploration agreement

science Technology

According to two people familiar with the plans, France is likely to join a US-led global pact governing how countries behave in space and on the moon. According to the sources, France’s signature of the accord, known as the Artemis Accords, will be one of the most important affirmations yet of Washington’s drive to set international legal rules and standards for investigating the lunar surface.

A request for comment was not immediately returned by a spokeswoman for the French space agency. An email requesting comment from NASA, which led to the writing of the Artemis Accords, was not returned. According to one of the individuals, French officials will sign the deals during a celebration of the French space agency’s 60th anniversary at the French ambassador’s house in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night.

In 2020, when it was developed by the Trump administration as a diplomatic prong of NASA’s main space exploration mission, Artemis, the country will become the 20th to sign up to the treaty. With the support of US allies and commercial firms, the initiative intends to return people to the moon’s surface by 2025.

The agreements, which are largely based on the broader principles of the landmark 1967 Outer Space Treaty, include several principles aimed at promoting peaceful uses of space, ranging from the establishment of “safety zones” around future moon bases to the sharing of scientific data with other countries. Other important nations that have signed the agreements include the United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada, with France expected to become the seventh European state. Colombia was the most recent signatory, signing last month, and is one of a small group of countries that see the agreements as a boost to expanding their space capabilities.

China, which is not a party to the Artemis Accords, is developing its lunar exploration programme, which NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other American officials consider a competitor to the Artemis mission. Instead of the Artemis programme, Russia, the US space agency’s longtime partner on the International Space Station, proposes to collaborate with Beijing on its moon mission.