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India Joins Artemis Accords, Expanding International Cooperation in Space Exploration

India's ambassador to the United States signed the Artemis Accords on behalf of India, marking the country as the 27th nation to join the agreement. Additionally, NASA expressed its intention to collaborate with ISRO on a joint mission to the ISS.

Indian Ambassador Taranjit Sandhu, signed the Artemis Accords as U.S. Department of State, Deputy Assistant Secretary for India, Nancy Jackson, left, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, and Indian Space Research Organization, Space Counsellor, Krunal Joshi, right, look on, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington. India is the 27th country to sign the Artemis Accords, which establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in NASA’s Artemis program.

On June 21, The Republic of India became the 27th country to sign the Artemis Accords during a ceremony at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington. The Artemis Accords are a set of principles that provide guidelines for international cooperation in space exploration, particularly in relation to NASA's Artemis program.

The Artemis Accords, established by NASA in 2020 in collaboration with seven other nations, serve as a practical framework to guide space exploration cooperation among participating countries. With India's inclusion, the Accords now boast an impressive roster of 27 signatory nations, highlighting the global appeal and relevance of collaborative space missions.

Taranjit Sandhu signs the Artemis Accords

During the ceremony, Administrator Bill Nelson expressed his appreciation for the growing partnership between NASA and India, emphasizing the significance of expanding joint efforts both on Earth and in space. He underscored the importance of peaceful and transparent space exploration, echoing the sentiments of President Biden and Vice President Harris, who prioritize a cooperative approach to space endeavors.

Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu emphasized India's commitment to responsible and sustainable space exploration. As a responsible space power, India places utmost importance on the peaceful utilization of outer space. By signing the Artemis Accords, India aims to reinforce a rule-based approach to space activities, aligning with the evolving norms and best practices governing international space exploration.

The Artemis Accords not only reinforce key obligations enshrined in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, but they also affirm the commitment of the United States and its signatory nations to other important agreements, such as the Registration Convention and the Rescue and Return Agreement. Furthermore, the Accords emphasize the importance of responsible behavior, including the public release of scientific data, ensuring transparency and collaboration among the participating nations.

On May 2023, Bhavya Lal, the associate administrator for technology, policy, and strategy within the office of the NASA Administrator, told there are 25 signatories to the Artemis Accords and hoped that India becomes the 26th country.

According to Lal, an advocate for India's participation in the Artemis Accords, signing the agreement should be a priority for India. Lal highlighted NASA's strong belief in India's global power and its significant contributions to space exploration. India stands out as one of the few countries with independent access to space and possesses a thriving launch industry. With successful missions to the moon and Mars under its belt, Lal argued that India's inclusion in the Artemis team is essential.

Lal emphasized that the purpose of the Artemis Accords is to ensure the sustainability of space activities for future generations. By joining the Accords, like-minded countries with shared values have an opportunity to collaborate and explore together. Lal's perspective underscores the mutual benefits and the potential for increased cooperation among nations with complementary space capabilities.

The sentiment aligns with the broader vision of the Artemis program, which seeks to foster international partnerships and leverage the strengths of each participating nation. With India's track record in space exploration and its growing capabilities, Lal advocated for India's active involvement in the Artemis initiative, emphasizing the importance of collective efforts in shaping the future of space exploration.

The inclusion of India in the Artemis Accords reflects the country's growing prowess in space exploration and its desire to be an active contributor on the global space stage. With its rich history in space missions, including successful lunar and Mars missions, India brings valuable expertise and resources to the international coalition.

As NASA continues to work with its international partners, more countries are expected to join the Artemis Accords in the future. This collaborative effort seeks to establish a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space exploration. By harnessing the collective energy and capabilities of diverse nations, the Artemis Accords pave the way for unprecedented achievements in space exploration and the pursuit of scientific knowledge for the betterment of humanity.

An official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, revealed that both agencies are working on a strategic framework for human spaceflight cooperation. This collaborative effort aims to enhance joint efforts and facilitate greater cooperation between the two agencies in the field of human space exploration.

Furthermore, the official disclosed that NASA and ISRO have agreed to undertake a joint mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024. This mission represents a significant milestone in the partnership between the two space agencies, as they work together to advance scientific research and exploration in space.

The specifics of the joint mission and the strategic framework are yet to be publicly announced. However, this development highlights the growing cooperation and mutual interest between NASA and ISRO in the realm of human spaceflight and exploration.

During the Prime Minister's Office (PMO)'s diplomatic visit to the White House, it is noticeable that ISRO Chairman S Somanath and Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State in the PMO overseeing space activities, are not accompanying the delegation. Their absence could be due to various reasons, such as prior commitments, and ongoing projects like the upcoming launch of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. It is common for officials to have different travel schedules based on their responsibilities and priorities at any given time.

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