WASHINGTON — Bulgaria has signed the U.S.-led Artemis Accords outlining principles for cooperation in space exploration, becoming the latest European nation to join.

At a Nov. 9 ceremony at NASA Headquarters, Milena Stoycheva, Bulgaria’s minister of innovation and growth, signed the Accords. The country is the 32nd to sign on to the document since it was rolled out three years ago.

“It is a historical moment for Bulgaria to join the Artemis Accords,” Stoycheva said in a statement. “We believe that pushing the boundaries of human quest in space with the support of AI and deep technologies will ensure peaceful and sustainable coexistence on Earth.”

Bulgaria adds to a growing number of European countries that have signed the Accords, which in recent months has included the Czech Republic, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. With Bulgaria’s signing, 10 member states of the European Union and 11 member states of the European Space Agency have joined the Accords.

“Bulgaria has a long and proud tradition of space exploration including two astronauts and microgravity plasma studies dating back to the 1970s,” said Mike Gold, chief growth officer of Redwire and a former NASA official who helped lead development of the Artemis Accords. “Bulgaria will add even more diversity, expertise and creativity to the rapidly growing Artemis Accords family of nations.”

The United States, which developed the Accords with a core group of nations who joined in 2020, argues that the document builds upon or “operationalizes” the Outer Space Treaty and other international space law by providing details on topics ranging from registration of space objects to deconfliction of space activities. Nations who sign the document are not necessarily committing themselves to participating in NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration campaign.

“The global partnerships made in the Artemis era will create possibilities that benefit members of the Artemis Generation in both our countries and around the world.” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “Bulgaria’s leadership will help ensure humanity’s journey to the Moon and beyond is done peacefully, safely, and transparently.”

Bulgaria is the third country to sign the Accords in recent weeks. The Netherlands signed on during a Nov. 1 ceremony and NASA revealed in a statement about that signing that Iceland had also recently joined.

NASA spokesperson Roxana Bardan told SpaceNews Nov. 7 that Iceland’s embassy in Washington delivered a signed copy of the Accords, dated Oct. 10, to the State Department on Oct. 31. “We hope to jointly celebrate Iceland’s decision to join the Artemis Accords family in the coming weeks,” she said.

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...