“There are two ways to interpret the conventions of Artemis: those who say it’s a pub open for business and Americans who say it isn’t.”, explained Wednesday, June 8 on franceinfo Olivier Sanguy, responsible for space news at the Cité de l’espace in Toulouse, while France joins the Artemis agreements, NASA’s lunar exploration program. These agreements in particular envisage the creation of “safety zones” to protect extraterrestrial resources.
franceinfo: What do these agreements mean?
Olivier Sangui: It’s a kind of interpretation of the 1967 space treaty that somewhat decoupled from the Artemis program for returning to and ascending to the Moon. The Artemis agreements are a kind of interpretation of space law and in particular the definition of a safety zone. If a machine landed on the moon, then we can say that it should not land near the moon because that could cause security problems. It’s not a national property, just a safe zone as the Americans and signatories to this convention say.
What is at stake?
There is potential to use lunar resources for exploration because we believe that perhaps in the future we will be able to extract water from lunar soil. You have to plan because NASA wants private companies to do it for them. The United States says this would be possible as part of an exploration for the benefit of humanity, but other countries, such as China and Russia, oppose this interpretation.
So will we be able to do business?
There are two ways to interpret the chords of Artemis. Those who say it’s an open bar for business and Americans who say no, it’s framed and that we can only do it for logical exploration and if for science.
What can we find exploitable on the moon?
First, there is the moon itself, as a scientific being. To understand the Moon is to understand the Earth. The moon formed in a massive collision. A Mars-sized object joined Earth more than 4 billion years ago and exhumed the Moon. So it is extracted from the primal earth. When we analyze the Moon, we understand the Earth from the very beginning, and therefore there is great scientific interest. On a more technical level, preparing for long-duration lunar missions means preparing for a more ambitious exploration, for example, Mars.
What about the mission preparation tests?
A little late like any very ambitious delay. Initially, we were supposed to land on the moon in 2024 with the next man and first woman. And Joe Biden added that we need someone from a diverse group, from the minority, so we would expect to have a Hispanic or African American astronaut among the crew. We are officially talking about the year 2025 for the mission, but it will be 2027 or before 2030.
Will once a crew land on the moon be able to establish a human presence there?
We can imagine that. First, there will be a human presence around the moon, as indicated by NASA’s plan. In this type of second smaller space station, Europa will bring modules and we will have the right to have three astronauts who will stay at this station around the moon.
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