It looks like Russia is fed up with international cooperation on the moon. They refused to sign the Artemis Accords, which are a set of rules for exploring the moon. NASA and seven other countries have already registered, with more to come.
Russia is NASA's largest partner in space exploration. The two countries are largely responsible for the International Space Station, and American astronauts have been traveling back and forth to the ISS in Russian Soyuz spacecraft since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. Russia, however, doesn't seem happy with the Artemis deal that says they're too US-centered.
The idea of the Artemis Agreement emerged last May when the US was developing a framework for rules for activities on the moon. They called them the Artemis Accords after a current effort to get astronauts back to the moon, called Artemis. NASA's Artemis program will involve other nations as partners. With this in mind, and given the involvement of all trading partners and the general enthusiasm for lunar exploration, NASA decided it was time for a set of rules for operations on the moon.
Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the moon.
"Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the means to establish this unique global coalition," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a press release. "With today's signing, we join forces with our partners to explore the moon and lay out key principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space that all of humanity can enjoy."
So far, eight countries have registered. You are:
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
This is just the first round, so to speak, and others are likely to sign up in the future. NASA hopes the accords will create collaboration between nations interested in the moon and that the accord will help generate peaceful – and successful – lunar explorations.
Artist's impression of a potential Artemis Mondlander project. Photo credit: NASA
"This first announcement is a beginning and no end for the nations joining the accords," said Mike Gold, NASA's assistant administrator for the Bureau of International and Inter-Agency Relations, in a briefing.
"In principle, the Artemis agreements will help to avoid conflicts in space and on earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions."
Mike Gold, NASA assistant administrator for international and inter-agency relations.
The Artemis Agreements contain 10 overarching principles that guide:
- Peaceful exploration
- Emergency assistance
- Registration of space objects
- Publication of scientific data
- Preserve the legacy
- Space resources
- Deconflict of activities
- Orbital remnants
NASA hopes that collaboration on the Artemis Accords will guide and strengthen space exploration and result in more peaceful relationships among the signatory nations.
“In principle, the Artemis agreements will help to avoid conflicts in space and on earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions. Transparency, public registration, conflict-free operations – these are the principles that will keep the peace, "said Mike Gold, NASA assistant administrator for international and inter-agency relations. "Artemis' voyage leads to the moon, but the aim of the agreements is a peaceful and prosperous future."
"When we think about the Artemis Accords, we try to establish norms of behavior that any nation can agree to," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
But one important nation is missing from the list of countries: Russia.
Russia's long history of space exploration is full of successes and innovations. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first person to travel into space by orbit in 1961. Russia (USSR) was also the first nation to send a spaceship with the Luna 3 probe in 1959 to see the other side of the moon, the first spaceship landed on Venus and was the first nation to take pictures of Venus & # 39 ; Surface sent back. This also made them the first nation to land a spaceship on another planet.
Dmitry Rogozin is the head of the Russian space program. He expressed his displeasure with the Artemis Accords when they were first mentioned in May. And during a recent panel held at the International Astronautical Congress, he rejected the agreements as being too "US-centered". He also criticized the Artemis Accords as too political and too far removed from the framework for cooperation on the ISS.
The Russian Venera 13 was the first spaceship to transmit a color image of the surface of Venus. A previous mission, Venera 9, was the first to take a picture of the Venusian surface, but this color has achieved cult status. Photo credit: NASA
"The most important thing would be to base this program on the principles of international cooperation that we have all applied," Rogozin said through a translator during a virtual press conference at the International Astronautical Congress. Rogozin also said, "If we could again consider using these principles as the basis of the program, Roscosmos might consider participating too."
Some of the Russian criticism is aimed at the American leadership of the entire Artemis company. Although NASA has several Artemis partners – including Canada, who will use their robotics expertise to build the Canadarm 3 for the mission – the US is clearly in the driver's seat. That doesn't go well with Russia.
At the beginning of the summer, Rogozin criticized the entire Artemis mission, not just the agreements, as being too political. "For the United States, this is now more of a political project," Rogozin told a Russian tabloid in July. “With the lunar project, we are observing how our American partners deviate from the principles of cooperation and mutual support that have developed while working together on the ISS. They do not see their program as international, but rather similar to NATO. There is America, everyone else has to help and pay. To be honest, we are not interested in participating in such a project. "
Russia built large parts of the ISS. They built the Russian orbital segment, which consisted of several components. Photo credits: After description and multilingual comment by Penyulap, from work by Craigboy, original image by Leebrandoncremer – http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-135/html/s135e011857.html, CC BY -SA 3.0 , https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17070923
Along with all the US-Russia cooperation, there is too little hostility. Nuclear weapons deals are controversial, allegations of electoral interference are negatively affecting relations, and sanctions against the occupation / invasion of Russia in Crimea are holding back Russia's economic growth. And of course there was the Cold War and the space race. The two nations had a wild relationship that dates back at least to World War II, when Stalin complained that Russia was paying a heavy price for life while the Allies hesitated over an invasion of Hitler's Europe. So the table is set for both cooperation and antagonism.
Perhaps Russia fears that it is heavily armed by the United States and the other signatory nations. NASA administrator Bridenstine said nations could be asked to leave the country if they don't obey the rules. "Look, you're in this program with the rest of us, but you don't play by the same rules," said Bridenstine.
Another prominent space nation is also missing from the list of nations that have signed the Artemis Agreement: China.
However, there is a clear reason China won't sign. You weren't asked.
Congress passed a law in 2011 banning NASA from collaborating, partnering, or even collaborating with China. Some members of Congress feared that the Chinese space program was too militaristic. Even so, NASA and China have found a way to do a little bit of cooperation with China's Chang & # 39; e 4 Moon Mission 2019. NASA monitored China's landers and rovers with its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Four LROC NAC views of the Chang & # 39; e 3. landing site. A) Before landing, June 30, 2013. B) After landing, December 25, 2013. C) January 21, 2014 D) February 17, 2014. The width of each image is 200 meters (approximately 656 feet). Follow Yutu's path clockwise around the lander in "D." Photo credit: NASA / Goddard / Arizona State University
Rarely does an international agreement win favor with everyone at the same time. Russia clearly has concerns about the Artemis Accords and the Artemis Program. However, whether they continue to refuse to participate or whether this marks the start of a long, drawn-out negotiation remains to be seen. It's hard to imagine that Russia will not make contact with the rest of the world while exploring the moon. The benefits could be substantial and cannot be ignored.
But with China and others who have not yet signed, the situation remains fluid. It is currently unclear what the final list of signatory states will look like. Russia could still sign the agreements and they could use their participation and contribution as a basis for negotiating other matters or changing the terms of the agreement.