According to a deal revealed on Wednesday by NASA and the White House, a foreign astronaut will travel to the moon to join American astronauts before the end of the decade.
The announcement was made as Vice President Kamala Harris called the National Space Council’s third meeting in Washington during the Biden administration.
The identity of the international moonwalker remained a mystery, as did the nation that would be represented. Later, a NASA spokesperson stated that no promises to another nation had been made and that people would be assigned closer to the lunar landing missions.
For many years, NASA has sent multinational astronauts on space missions. In about a year, Canadian Jeremy Hansen will travel around the moon with three American astronauts.
It would be the first lunar landing by astronauts in over fifty years, if another crew managed to land. That is unlikely to happen before 2027, the U.S. Government Accountability Office is of the opinion.
During NASA’s Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s, all twelve moonwalkers were citizens of the United States. Artemis, after Apollo’s mythological twin sister, is the name of the space agency’s latest lunar exploration mission.
Hansen informed the council that involving foreign partners “is not only sincerely appreciated, but it is urgently needed in the world today.”
NASA has long emphasized the importance of international cooperation in space, and in 2020, the U.S. State Department and NASA established the Artemis Accords to encourage responsible behavior not only on the moon but throughout space. The gathering of the Space Council in Washington was planned to include representatives from all 33 of the countries that have signed the accords thus far.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated, “We know from experience that collaboration on space delivers,” pointing to the U.S., European, and Canadian effort on the Webb Space Telescope.
China and Russia, the only nations other than the United States to have sent their own citizens into orbit, are conspicuously absent from the Artemis Accords. Russia, along with Europe, Japan, and Canada, is a partner of NASA on the International Space Station. During the shuttle program, the Russian and American space agencies collaborated to launch each other’s astronauts to Russia’s former orbiting Mir station, even earlier in the 1990s.
As more and more nations and private enterprises strive higher, Harris also unveiled new regulations to guarantee the safe use of space during the summit on Wednesday. The growing amount of space debris orbiting Earth and the climate catastrophe are two of the concerns that the United States is trying to overcome. More than 1,500 pieces of potentially hazardous orbiting debris were added by Russia during an anti-satellite missile test in 2021, and Blinken joined others at the meeting to demand that other countries cease these harmful tests.