Marcos Pontes, Brazil’s minister of science, technology and innovation, signs the Artemis Accords in a June 15 ceremony in Brasilia. Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR

WASHINGTON — Brazil became the 12th nation to sign the Artemis Accords, the U.S.-led effort to establish norms of behavior for space exploration, June 15.

Marcos Pontes, Brazil’s minister of science, technology and innovation, and also the first Brazilian to go to space, signed the Artemis Accords in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the country’s foreign minister, Carlos Alberto França, also attended.

“The signing of Artemis Accords is a historic moment for Brazil. Together with the U.S. and other countries we will have the opportunity to explore the moon and initiate infinite other possibilities for international cooperation,” Pontes said in a statement.

Brazil expressed interest in the accords shortly after the United States and seven other countries unveiled them in October 2020. In December, Pontes and then-NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine signed a statement of intent, where Brazil said it planned to sign the accords and expressed an interest in developing a robotic lunar rover.

NASA’s current administrator, Bill Nelson, welcomed Brazil’s accession to the accords. “In undertaking this important commitment, Brazil is positioned to be a leader in safe and sustainable exploration,” he said in a statement.

The Artemis Accords outline best practices for safe and sustainable exploration beyond Earth. Most of its provisions are intended to implement aspects of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and other treaties, from committing to the peaceful uses of outer space to registration of space objects.

Other elements of the accords cover sharing of scientific data and interoperability of space systems. The accords also recognize that the extraction and utilization of space resources is consistent with the Outer Space Treaty, while calling for development of “international practices and rules” regarding such activities.

NASA announced the Artemis Accords at the International Astronautical Congress in October 2020. Joining the United States at the time were Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom. Ukraine signed the accords in November.

Brazil is the third country in less than a month to sign the accords. South Korea signed the accords May 27, while New Zealand followed on May 31. NASA said in a statement that it expects more countries to sign the accords “in the months and years ahead” but did not disclose which countries are considering signing.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...