Why don’t France and Germany want to enter the Artemis Accords?

Why don't France and Germany want to enter the Artemis Accords?

The United States wants the Artemis Accords to become the new international reference for conduct in space. Italy has already joined the text, while France and Germany have reservations

The new space race has opened unprecedented economic and, perhaps, evolutionary possibilities: it's all about the space economy , mining exploitation, permanent stations on the Moon, colonization of Mars. Reality and science fiction mix, the possible and the feasible as well, but there is no doubt that the United States – which wants to bring humans back to the natural satellite of the Earth within a few years – intends to lead this phase. exploratory and to establish the rules.

There is a document, called the Artemis Accords from the NASA program of the same name, which contains the principles welcomed by Washington on issues such as the exploitation of natural resources present on the lunar soil or on comets and asteroids, or the role of governments in protecting sites mining or bases. In other words, the Artemis Accords want to become the new international reference for cosmic conduct after the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, drawn up at the UN.


The text of the Artemis Agreements was published in October 2020 and – as POLITICO reconstructs – they were joined, among others, by Italy, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Poland, Canada, Australia, Japan. and South Korea . Among the countries that have no intention of signing it are first and foremost China and Russia, which have their own plans for space and do not want to abide by American standards. Those who, on the other hand, theoretically could, because they are allies of Washington, but have reservations are France and Germany, the two main "heads" of the European Union.


Through Artemis, America wants to establish a fundamental concept: that the extraction of extra-terrestrial resources – rare earths on the Moon, for example – does not intrinsically constitute a form of national appropriation. In other words, it's telling its own private companies, like SpaceX and Blue Origin, to get ready. France , on the other hand, is closely linked to the definition contained in the 1967 Treaty, which states that the exploitation of space mining must be considered precisely as a national appropriation, and as such prohibited.


The divisions between Washington, Paris and Berlin are not limited to space mining . The United States, in fact, wants to establish "safety zones" in space: a concept that could allow them to claim exclusive access to certain parts of the cosmos, exactly the opposite of what is stated in the 1967 Treaty.

The Americans would like Europeans to join their regulatory framework for space exploration, so as to isolate and hinder the moves of the Russians and Chinese. But Brussels has objectives of strategic autonomy , does not want to continue to depend on Washington and intends to assert its interests. The French and the Germans would like a more present and relevant European Space Agency (ESA). The difficulty lies in gathering consensus in the community, also because several members of the Union – such as Italy – have already joined the Artemis Agreements.


ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher recently said that Europe should thwart SpaceX and its Starlink program on low-orbit satellites, otherwise this company will end up dominating the space economy and writing the rules, making it competition with the companies of the Old Continent made impossible.

(The article originally appeared on eastwest )

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/mondo/accordi-artemis-spazio-stati-uniti-francia-germania/ on Sat, 22 Jan 2022 07:14:19 +0000.