Colombia Artemis Accords
Colombian Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez (left) signs the Artemis Accords May 10 at NASA Headquarters with NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

WASHINGTON — Colombia signed the Artemis Accords for responsible space exploration May 10, continuing a steady stream of countries that have acceded to the agreement.

Marta Lucía Ramírez, vice president and foreign minister of Colombia, signed the agreement at NASA Headquarters May 10 alongside NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. Colombia is the 19th nation to join the Accords, unveiled in 2020, and the third in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico.

“It is a substantial steppingstone for my country as we continue to develop our knowledge, national capacity and understanding of the importance of space for future generations of Colombians to come,” Ramírez said of the Artemis Accords in a statement.

“Our efforts to create a sustainable presence at the Moon and later Mars requires the partnership and expertise of a diverse and robust cadre of nations that embrace peaceful exploration of space,” Melroy said in the statement. “We look forward to our future collaborations with Colombia as the world explores together.”

The Artemis Accords outline principles for responsible space exploration cooperation among nations, building upon the Outer Space Treaty and related agreements. Its provisions range from sharing of scientific data to the use of “safety zones” to deconflict space activities and support for the extraction and utilization of space resources.

“As we look to work with the international community to uphold and strengthen a rules-based international order, the Artemis Accords present an opportunity for this generation to positively define the rules and principles that we will use to guide our civil exploration of the moon and onward to Mars,” said Valda Vikmanis-Keller, director of the Office of Space Affairs at the State Department, during a May 3 presentation at a meeting of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).

She added that the United States wanted to expand the countries who are part of the Accords. Colombia is the fifth nation to sign the Accords this year, following Israel, Romania, Bahrain and Singapore.

At a meeting of the National Space Council in December, Vice President Kamala Harris identified France and Mexico as two countries that expressed an interest in signing the Artemis Accords. Mexico signed the Accords later than month, but France has yet to formally join.

Another country reportedly considering the Artemis Accords is India. “That is an ongoing conversation that we continue to have with our Indian colleagues,” Vikmanis-Keller said when asked about it at the COMSTAC meeting, citing unspecified “sensitivities and concerns” about the agreement there. “That is certainly something that we continue to raise when the opportunity presents itself. I don’t know if they will sign the Artemis Accords, but the dialogue is still very much active.”

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...