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Artemis Accords: Should India Sign This Moon Exploration Agreement

  • Space
NASA Artemis Accords Mission
Source : NASA

The Artemis Accords are a mechanism by which countries can participate in NASA’s Artemis Programme. The programme envisages landing the 1st woman & therefore the next man on the Moon. NASA thinks international partnerships will play a key role in achieving a sustainable presence on the Moon.

NASA likely sees this as a natural next step after the collaboration at the ISS.

China has proposed its own version of a permanent lunar base. When the Artemis Accords were announced, Russia said the accords were too US-centric, and later went on to participate within the Chinese programme.

India’s lunar programme has had limited success. it’s two missions in orbit. the 1st & only mission to the surface failed in September 2019. The US has collaborated with India on Chandrayaan 1, the 1st lunar mission. India is additionally collaborating with Japan on a future lunar mission, called LUPEX, to the Moon’s surface. Japan is additionally a signatory to the Artemis Accords.

Next, India’s human space programme depends on Russia for astronaut training. it’s presently within the process of fixing its own facilities for the human spaceflight training programme. The US, France, Germany & Italy in Europe, & Japan have also offered help to India with human spaceflight training.

India also depends on Ukraine for semi-cryogenic engines – and Ukraine may be a signatory to the accords.

These various dependencies in advanced space technologies structure a crucial background to know the context in which India is working . they can play a task in India’s decision on whether to join the Artemis Accords.

India’s own space programme has different priorities. While continuing to launch and maintain its fleet of Earth-observation & communication satellites, it’s presently pushing towards human space flight missions.

India is seeking to let private sector companies participate in building and launching Earth-observation & communication satellites. it’s presently within the process of drafting space law & has been publishing several draft guidelines towards opening up the space sector to non-public players.

It is also evident that the priority for interplanetary missions has been slipping. there’s almost a decade-long gap between interplanetary missions to the Moon & Mars. This trend is probably going to continue towards the 2nd Mars mission. Chandrayaan 3 may break this decadal jinx.

India is sharpening the Indian Space Research Organisation’s main focus on R&D & advanced missions. Given this, it’s essential that India be an early participant within the Artemis Accords, in order that it can gain lessons and expertise from other countries that are members of the accords. this might be things like robotics from Canada, sample return & avionics from Japan, and ground station and deep space region network expertise from the US & Australia.

The accords form a natural extension of the Quad’s Critical & Emerging Technologies working group . The US, Japan & Australia are already signatories of the accords. India’s addition to the accords would offer a framework for space cooperation among these Quad countries, and will even be extended to other critical & emerging technologies. India features a lot to offer and more to gain from strengthening this connection. Signing the accords would make it easier to collaborate with other signatories.

By being a part of the artemis accords, India’s space companies could become a part of a worldwide supply chain, along side Indian SMEs & New Space startups. this is able to also help attract investment capital towards Indian space startups and cause flow of capital into India.

In the 1960s & 1970s, India took help from western countries like the US & UK to greater understand sounding-rocket and satellite technologies. The Artemis Accords provides a same opportunity to find out about interplanetary missions & human spaceflight. India must take advantage of this chance or opportunity.

There could also be fears about what might happen to the indigenous programme if India were to participate in Accords. India should encourage the involvement of the private sector in communications and Earth-observation satellites construction and launch and also outline its priorities for interplanetary & human spaceflight missions and actively pursue them. Aligning them with interests of nations that provide expertise in certain areas might be the simplest use of the Artemis Accords for India.

India has had a standard partnership with Russia, which recently partnered with China in its International Lunar Research Station initiative. Signing up for the accords must not be equated to severing ties with Russia. India has maintained a relationship with Russia in other strategic areas & therefore the same could apply for space after India signs the accords also .

Finally, India has had skirmishes with China on the border & cooperation in space between the 2 countries has been limited. However, institutions just like the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and IIT-BHU have signed up to fly experiments on board the Chinese space station (CSS) . India also plans to create its own space Station . We could also be ready to witness an Indian space platform flying to the Chinese space platform almost like the Apollo-Soyuz programme between Russia & US in 1975.

India has traditionally been wary of cooperation with the US on space , although their working together on the Chandrayaan 1 & NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) missions have helped to create and restore some confidence in one another . These might be the stepping stones for India to sign the accords themselves.

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