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The Moon. Photo: NASA/JSC

Eight nations signed on this week to the Artemis Accords, a set of principles for exploring the Moon and using its resources.

Why it matters: While NASA's Artemis program to land people on the Moon by 2024 is very much led and developed by the space agency, NASA officials want other countries to buy into lunar exploration through the Artemis Accords in order to make that exploration sustainable and international.

The state of play: The United States, Australia, Japan, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, the U.K. and the United Arab Emirates are all signatories, according to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

  • Those nations that sign on to the accords either now or in the future will be expected to share scientific data openly, work to prevent the creation of space junk, preserve "space heritage" like landing sites and other provisions.
  • The accords specifically allow for the extraction of resources from the Moon for peaceful means.
  • "We're establishing what the rules and the norms of behavior are, as we do this, so that we can preserve space and make sure that when we do explore, we're doing it with peaceful purposes," Bridenstine said during a press briefing Monday. "We're doing it with transparency and clarity to avoid any kind of misperceptions and any kind of conflict."

But, but, but: Not all nations consider NASA's Moon program inclusive.

  • Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, said this week at the International Astronautical Congress that NASA's plans for the Moon — specifically its small Gateway space station expected to orbit the natural satellite — are "too U.S.-centric."

Between the lines: China is also aiming to send people to the Moon in the coming years, but don't expect the nation to be added to the Artemis Accords anytime in the near future.

  • NASA is barred from partnering with China on any bilateral agreements like the accords without congressional approval.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 5, 2021 - Science

White House lays out new planetary protection guidelines against human contamination

Mars as seen by the Curiosity rover. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The White House laid out a plan last week for updating long-held rules around how to protect the Moon, Mars and other bodies from human contamination.

Why it matters: If a space agency or private company is looking for life on Mars or another deep space object, it's key to be sure any microbes detected are actually native and didn't hitch a ride from Earth.

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

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