Washington — Although NASA and the European Space Agency have cheered this week for an agreement to work together on the lunar channel, both agencies are working to establish international cooperation on the entire Artemis program for human lunar exploration.
NASA and ESA announced on October 27 that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate on the moon channel. The memorandum of understanding extends the existing intergovernmental agreement of the International Space Station to the porch, which is an outpost built by humans in orbit around the moon to support manned missions to the lunar surface.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement about the agreement: “This partnership takes full advantage of the excellent partnership established by the International Space Station because we are heading to the moon.” Gateway will continue to expand its cooperation with NASA and other international partners such as NASA to ensure that Artemis plans to achieve safe and sustainable exploration of the moon after the first human landing on the moon and beyond. “
According to the agreement, ESA will provide the gateway with a residential module called I-Hab and a telecommunications and refueling department called European Fueling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications System (ESPRIT). The European Space Agency will also establish two additional service modules for the Orion spacecraft.
These donations are long-term planned. ESA received initial funding for its Gateway contribution at the Space1
In return, NASA will provide European astronauts with the opportunity to fly to Gateway. ESA Director-General Jan Woerner said in a statement: “This memorandum of understanding marks a key point in the European development trajectory: it confirms that we are moving towards the moon, not only in terms of equipment and technology, but also Also moving forward with our personnel.”
The announcement of the memorandum of understanding did not mention how many European astronauts flew to the portal. NASA spokesperson Gina Anderson (Gina Anderson) said on October 28 that the agreement includes three “occupant opportunities” leading to the portal, although specific tasks and dates have not yet been determined. She added that the agreement only involves flights to the gateway, not the mission to the moon.
Neither NASA nor ESA released the text of the memorandum of understanding. Anderson said that the Memorandum of Understanding “is an important and unique agreement that is part of a package agreement with our other scheduled Gateway partners”, especially Canada and Japan, which are still under negotiation. She said: “After completing the agreements with Canada and Japan, NASA plans to package and release the three memorandums of understanding.”
Both Canada and Japan have expressed interest in participating in the portal. The Canadian government announced in February 2019 that it will build a robotic arm system called Canadarm3 for Gateway. The Japanese government signed a cooperation agreement with NASA in July, outlining Japan’s role in human exploration, including its potential contribution to the portal.
When asked in a speech at the Wayne von Braun Memorial Symposium of the American Astronautical Society on October 28, when the bride was asked, NASA had not finalized the agreement with Canada and Japan. He said: “As far as these negotiations are concerned, I have nothing to announce.” “Please stay tuned because we are approaching.”
Bridenstine said that NASA has been in discussions with “including every entity on the International Space Station,” including Russia. However, at the IAC on October 12, Dmitry Rogozin, Director-General of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, criticized the portal for being “too US-centric” and stated that “Russia may avoid large-scale participation in the Portal. ”
Although ESA has signed a memorandum of cooperation with NASA on the Moon Gateway, most of its member states have not yet signed Artemis Accords, which is a principle established by NASA to guide participation in the entire program. Three of ESA’s 22 member states-Italy, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom-signed the document with Canada, Japan, Australia and the United Arab Emirates at a ceremony on October 13.
However, the provisions on the right to extract and use space resources in the Agreement may become a stumbling block for other ESA members. Sylvie Espinasse, the head of the ESA Washington DC office, said in a panel discussion at the Von Braun seminar held on October 27: “These 22 member states are This issue takes a completely different position.”
ESA members reached a consensus on the importance of using lunar resources to support sustainable lunar exploration, but there are differences in how to manage resource utilization. She said: “We cannot ignore the elephant in the regulatory challenge and how we will use these resources.”
She said: “ESA will listen carefully to the opinions of all its member states, as well as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on the future discussion of space resources.” “Then, just as ESA always manages the end, we will find a way , Present them with an exciting package of lunar activities and how to contribute to Artemis, and we will find a way to obtain a legal framework that is satisfactory to all of them.”