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New Zealand and NASA partner up, allowing Aotearoa to grow space industry, minister says

By RNZ
Wed 2 Jun 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

New Zealand and NASA have partnered up under the multi-lateral Artemis Accords, in an effort to enhance space exploration efforts.

The Accords guide peaceful exploration of space, transparency of activities and rules around scientific discoveries and the utilisation of space resources.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta said the agreement was a good first step to developing stricter rules around the use of space resources - such as minerals from the moon - in order to ensure the sustainability of space exploration.

"As one of only a small number of states with space launch capability we take responsibilities of kaitiakitanga of the space environment seriously. New Zealand is committed to ensuring the next phase of space exploration is conducted in a safe, sustainable and transparent manner and in full compliance with international law."

"The ability to use space resources such as minerals on the moon and other celestial bodies is critical to enable the next phase of space exploration, including the possibility of sending humans to Mars."

Minister for Economic and Regional Development Stuart Nash said the agreement would allow New Zealand to grow its space industry, currently worth $1.7 billion.

"NASA is explicitly seeking international collaboration and outsourcing key technology solutions to the private sector. Space exploration not only increases our knowledge of our planet and universe and encourages research, science and innovation, it also provides economic opportunities for New Zealand," Nash said.

"The government's economic priorities include supporting firms to make the most of our international connections. The Artemis Accords enable us to prepare for future economic and trade opportunities as well as meeting foreign policy objectives."

New Zealand is the 11th signatory alongside Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Ukraine.

Brazil has also announced its intention to sign.

Summary of the text of the Artemis Accords

The Accords are not binding in international law, but contain a set of principles designed to guide the safe and sustainable exploration and use of outer space. The principles are:

  • Peaceful Exploration: All activities conducted under the Artemis program must be for peaceful purposes
  • Transparency: Artemis Accords signatories will conduct their activities in a transparent fashion to avoid confusion and conflicts
  • Interoperability: Nations participating in the Artemis program will strive to support interoperable systems to enhance safety and sustainability
  • Emergency Assistance: Artemis Accords signatories commit to rendering assistance to personnel in distress
  • Registration of Space Objects: Any nation participating in Artemis must be a signatory to the Registration Convention or become a signatory with alacrity
  • Release of Scientific Data: Artemis Accords signatories commit to the public release of scientific information, allowing the whole world to join us on the Artemis journey
  • Preserving Heritage: Artemis Accords signatories commit to preserving outer space heritage
  • Space Resources: Extracting and utilizing space resources is key to safe and sustainable exploration and the Artemis Accords signatories affirm that such activities should be conducted in compliance with the Outer Space Treaty. Signatories intend to use their experience under the Accords to contribute to multilateral efforts to further develop international practices and rules applicable to the extraction and utilisation of space resources, including through ongoing efforts at the UN committee COPUOS.
  • Deconfliction of Activities: The Artemis Accords nations commit to provide notification of their activities and coordinate with any relevant actor, as required by the Outer Space Treaty
  • Orbital Debris: Artemis Accords countries commit to planning for the safe disposal of debris.
RNZ logo
This story was originally published on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.
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