Ecuador signs international agreement for the peaceful exploration of space

Jun 28, 2023 | 6 comments

Ecuador and India signed the Artemis Accords last week in Washington, D.C., bringing the total number of countries that have agreed to sustainable and peaceful space exploration to 27.

The Artemis Accords, which share their name with NASA’s Artemis program of moon exploration, are a framework co-authored by NASA and the U.S. Department of State that lays out a set of principles and practices designed to ensure sustainable and peaceful exploration of the moon and beyond.

From left to right, Ecuador Minster of Production Julio José Prado, Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States Ivonne A-Baki, Ecuador Minister of Foreign Affairs Gustavo Manrique Miranda, U.S. Department of State Director of the Office of Space Affairs Valda Vikmanis Keller, and NASA Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations Karen Feldstein, pose for a photo during an Artemis Accords signing ceremony, Wednesday, June 21.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Gustavuo Miranda signed the accords on June 21 at the nation’s embassy in Washington, D.C., while India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, signed June 22 during a visit with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House.

“Today, Ecuador joins the group of nations committed to safeguarding outer space for the future,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The achievements made in this golden era of exploration will benefit the Artemis generation — in our nations and around the globe.”

The Artemis Accords were launched in 2020 when representatives from eight nations  —  the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates  —  signed the agreement. The accords seek to lay out guidelines that would help avoid conflicts or potential misunderstandings as more and more nations begin exploring space and the moon. They include commitments for sharing scientific knowledge and ensuring interoperability for space-based infrastructure, among other agreements.

However, some nations argue that the Artemis Accords are skewed in favor of the United States. Russia and China, who have their own plans to build a base on the moon by the mid-2030s, have argued that the accords are a power grab by the U.S. and its allies.

Both China and the United States have ambitious goals for lunar exploration, including establishing sustainable settlements near the moon’s south pole. NASA chief Bill Nelson has declared the two nations to now be in a space race over staking territorial claims to parts of the moon.

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