When India’s ambassador to the US signed up his country to the Artemis Accords last month, it signaled the world’s most populous country—with a growing prowess in spaceflight—could be turning toward the United States as a partner in space exploration.
India became the 27th country to sign the Artemis Accords, a non-binding set of principles among like-minded nations guiding a vision for peaceful and transparent exploration of space. The accords cover the international registration of human-made space objects, the open release of scientific data, and an agreement for nations not to claim territory on the Moon or other planetary bodies, among other tenets.
The Artemis Accords started under the Trump administration, an effort spearheaded by former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Mike Gold, an attorney and longtime space industry official. Bill Nelson, the NASA chief under President Biden, has embraced the accords. He said the principles are “just common sense.”
“You come to somebody’s aid in distress … You try to have commonality of parts, you respect each other’s territory,” Nelson said.
Details about future cooperation between the US and India remain scarce. Nelson plans to travel to India later this year for meetings and discussions with Indian space officials. One objective of Nelson’s trip will be to hammer out broad objectives for a “strategic framework” for human spaceflight cooperation.
Despite the name of the Artemis Accords, there’s no guarantee that India will play a significant role in NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon and eventually send humans to Mars.
“There’s no implication of a signatory to the Artemis accords also being part…
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