WASHINGTON — Uruguay signed the Artemis Accords outlining best practices in space exploration Feb. 15, the second country in as many weeks to do so.

In a ceremony at NASA Headquarters, Omar Paganini, foreign minister of Uruguay, signed the Accords on the behalf of the country. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other officials from both the United States and Uruguay attended the signing.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to introduce space cooperation as a new chapter in the robust bilateral agenda between Uruguay and the U.S.,” Paganini said in a statement about the signing, calling it “the beginning of a new bilateral track” of cooperation between the countries.

Uruguay does not have a significant space program, but announced last year plans to establish a national space agency. Uruguay has hosted the headquarters of Satellogic, a company developing a constellation of Earth observation satellites, although the company said in September it planned to redomicile the company in the United States to allow it to compete for U.S. government business.

The signing took place as part of bilateral ministerial meetings between the United States and Uruguay. In a readout of those meetings, the U.S. State Department said the United States “agreed to support Uruguay exploring civilian and commercial space industries,” but did not elaborate on those plans.

“The United States and Uruguay share a commitment to democracy and peace, and now, we expand these principles in the cosmos to commit to the safe and transparent exploration of space,” Nelson said in a statement about the signing.

Uruguay is the 36th country to sign the Accords, established in 2020, and the second in as many weeks after Greece signed the documents Feb. 9. The signatories range from countries with advanced space programs to those like Uruguay that are only starting to develop space capabilities.

The Artemis Accords outline best practices for countries to follow in space exploration activities, building upon the Outer Space Treaty and other international agreements on topics ranging from registration of space objects to utilization of space resources.

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...