WASHINGTON — Colombia signed the Artemis Accords for responsible space exploration on May 10, continuing a steady stream of countries that have joined the agreement.
Marta Lucía Ramírez, Vice President and Foreign Minister of Colombia, signed the agreement at NASA headquarters on May 10 together with NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. Colombia is the 19th nation to join the Agreements, presented in 2020, and the third in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico.
“It is a substantial stepping stone for my country as we continue to develop our knowledge, national capacity and understanding of the importance of space for future generations of Colombians,” Ramírez said of the Artemis Accords in a statement.
“Our efforts to create a sustainable presence on the Moon and then on Mars require the partnership and expertise of a diverse and strong cadre of nations that embrace the peaceful exploration of space,” Melroy said in the statement. “We look forward to our future collaborations with Colombia as the world explores together.”
The Artemis Accords outline the principles for responsible cooperation in space exploration among nations, building on the Outer Space Treaty and related agreements. Its provisions range from the exchange of scientific data to the use of “safe zones” to avoid conflicts in space activities and support for the extraction and use of space resources.
“As we seek to work with the international community to uphold and strengthen a rules-based international order, the Artemis Accords present an opportunity for this generation to positively define the rules and principles we will use to guide our civilian exploration of the moon and to Mars.” Valda Vikmanis-Keller, director of the State Department’s Office of Space Affairs, said during a May 3 presentation at a meeting of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).
He added that the United States wanted to expand the countries that are party to the Accords. Colombia is the fifth nation to sign the Agreements this year, after Israel, Romania, Bahrain and Singapore.
At a National Space Council meeting in December, Vice President Kamala Harris identified France and Mexico as two countries that had expressed interest in signing the Artemis Accords. Mexico signed the Accords a month later, but France has yet to formally join.
Another country reportedly considering the Artemis Accords is India. “That is an ongoing conversation that we continue to have with our Indian colleagues,” Vikmanis-Keller said when asked about it at the COMSTAC meeting, citing unspecified “sensitivities and concerns” about the deal there. “That’s certainly something we continue to bring up when the opportunity presents itself. I don’t know if they will sign the Artemis Agreements, but the dialogue is still very active”.