Belgium signs international cooperation agreement on space exploration
Belgium signed an international cooperation agreement for the exploration of the moon and other celestial bodies on Tuesday.
"The signing of the Artemis Accord underlines our continued commitment to sustainable and responsible space exploration and strengthens our relations with our international partners," said Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib. She and secretary of state for Science Policy Thomas Dermine represented Belgium at the signing.
In October 2020, the US launched the Artemis Accords to coordinate future cooperation in the civilian exploration of the moon, Mars, comets and asteroids for peaceful purposes.
Belgium sees the non-binding agreement as an important political instrument to bring space exploration in line with existing legislation, such as the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty. The agreement also covers the exchange of scientific information, the safe management of space debris and the allocation of rights to use natural resources in space.
Dermine said the signature was a necessary and decisive condition for the possible participation of a Belgian astronaut in the Artemis programme. Belgian neuroscientist Raphaël Liégeois is currently undergoing training to join the astronaut corps of the European Space Agency.
The US plans to send astronauts back to the moon in the near future with the Artemis programme. It is also preparing for a future crewed mission to Mars. However, NASA recently postponed the crewed Artemis 2 mission to September 2025 and the planned lunar landing, Artemis 3, to September 2026. Artemis 4 is still scheduled for September 2028.
Mission control center in the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS