Czech Republic Joins Artemis Accords

Czech Republic Joins Artemis Accords

The Czech Republic became the 24th country to sign the U.S.-led Artemis Accords today. In a signing ceremony at NASA Headquarters, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský pointed to his country’s participation in the lunar Gateway space station and the more than 100 companies and research institutes involved in space activities. Prague also is home to the  European Union’s space agency.

The Czech Republic was established in 1993 when Czechoslovakia split in two becoming the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, also known as Czechia and Slovakia.

In 1978 when the two were still joined, Czechoslovakia became just the third country to have a citizen fly in space. Vladimir Remek flew on the Soviet Soyuz-28 mission to the Salyut-6 space station as part of the Intercosmos program. Salyut 6 was the first space station to have multiple docking ports allowing long-duration missions and crew rotations.

Lipavský and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson pointed out today, however, that two legendary Apollo astronauts were of Czech descent, Jim Lovell (Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, Apollo 13) and Gene Cernan (Gemini 9-A, Apollo 10, Apollo 17).

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson presents Foreign Affairs Minister for the Czech Republic Jan Lipavský with a signed photograph of the Orion spacecraft against the Moon and Earth following the signing of the Artemis Accords on May 3, 2023. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Signing the Artemis Accords marks his country’s dedication to “peaceful, transparent and responsible conduct in space exploration,” Lipavský said.

Nelson agreed those are principles “that we try in our exploration to espouse….As we sail on this new cosmic sea, going to foreign cosmic shores, there’s so much to learn. There’s so much to be excited about. And now we go with friends and neighbors and that includes the Czech Republic.”

An original group of eight countries —  the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Italy, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates — signed the Artemis Accords in October 2020.  The list has expanded since then, mostly recently adding Nigeria and Rwanda in December 2022.

Signatories to the Artemis Accords as of May 3, 2023. Source: NASA

The non-legally binding Artemis Accords lay out 10 core principles, grounded in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, to guide international participation in the Artemis program for sustainable exploration and use of the Moon: peaceful purposes, transparency, interoperability, emergency assistance, registration of space objects, release of scientific data, preserving outer space heritage, space resources, deconfliction of space activities, and orbital debris.

The Czech Republic is a member of the European Space Agency (ESA), one of NASA’s partners in building the Gateway space station that will orbit the Moon. Lipavský said they are providing radiation and pressure sensors for Gateway.

It is also a member of the European Union (EU), which conducts its own space activities like the Galileo navigation satellite and Copernicus earth remote sensing programs. In 2021, the EU created the European Union Agency for the Space Programme headquartered in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

Lipavský said that among the more than 100 Czech companies and research institutes involved in space activities are “over 50 startups that have been created in the past six years.”

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International and Scientific Affairs Jennifer R. “J.R.” Littlejohn participated in the signing ceremony at NASA HQ. The State Department said in a press release that representatives of several other Artemis Accords signatories were present: Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

The Czech Republic is also a member of NATO. Lipavský is here not only to sign the Artemis Accords, but to hold a strategic dialogue with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.