Romania Artemis Accords
Marius-Ioan Piso (right), head of the Romanian Space Agency, shows off the signed Artemis Accords document with David Muniz, the U.S. chargé d’affaires to Romania, at a March 1 ceremony. Credit: Romanian Space Agency

WASHINGTON — Romania became the 16th country to sign the NASA-led Artemis Accords for cooperation in space exploration March 1.

Marius-Ioan Piso, the longtime head of the Romanian Space Agency, signed the accords in a ceremony in Bucharest attended in person by David Muniz, the U.S. chargé d’affaires to Romania, and virtually by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

NASA announced the Artemis Accords in October 2020 with eight countries, including the U.S., as initial signatories. The document outlines principles for cooperation in space exploration, from sharing of data to rights to utilize space resources. Romania and seven other countries, a mix of traditional and emerging space partners, have joined the Accords since then.

“Now more than ever, it is important that we work together across international boundaries to strengthen partnerships and ensure the use of outer space for peaceful purposes,” Nelson said in a statement. “Having Romania join the Artemis Accords is an important step toward achieving this goal.”

Piso didn’t state what role Romania sought in the Artemis program that led it to sign the Accords. “This spirit of collaboration was a main impetus for us to join the Artemis Moon exploration endeavor,” he said in the statement. “Among the clear benefits that emerge from the participation in this unique program, we see Artemis also as an attractor for the younger generation towards science, discovery, innovation – things that robots still cannot do.”

Romania is the fifth member of the European Space Agency to sign the Accords, joining Italy, Poland, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. France has also expressed an interest in signing the Accords but has yet to do so.

The NASA statement said that other countries may sign the Accords in the “months and years ahead,” but did not mention any specific candidates.

“With numerous countries and private sector players conducting missions and operations in cislunar space, it’s critical to establish a common set of principles to govern the civil exploration and use of outer space,” said Valda Vikmanis-Keller, director of the Office of Space Affairs at the State Department, during a Feb. 23 panel discussion by George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute. “We are looking to expand the number of countries committing to the Artemis Accords.”

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...