Artemis Accords signatories will meet in Montreal this month to discuss best practices and guidelines for responsible and sustainable space exploration. 

The annual meeting for the 39 nations who have signed onto the non-binding agreement is a follow-on to last year’s gathering in Poland and will allow officials to come together ahead of the IAC meeting in Milan this fall.  

“This is just a starting point, so the Artemis Accords is an opportunity for dialogue and a recognition that we have a shared responsibility to explore in a sustainable way,” Canadian astronaut Jenni Gibbons said at the Meridian Space Diplomacy Forum. 

In the grind: Valda Vikmanis-Keller, who leads the State Department’s space office, was careful to point out that while the meeting is an opportunity for face-to-face discussions, it’s far from the only time signatories are talking to each other.

“It’s not a ‘here’s a meeting and then we do something on the margins of the IAC.’ These are real, in-the-weeds discussions about shared interests and shared concerns,” she said. “There’s a meaning to it. It’s not simply a symbolic getting together of space agency representatives.” 

Participation points: Countries who sign the Accords don’t have any obligation to participate in these meetings, said Karen Feldstein, NASA’s associate administrator for international and interagency relations. Despite that, participation levels are pretty high, she said. As an example: at the first meeting of agency leaders from signatory nations, held in Paris, officials from 17 of the 19 countries attending spoke, regardless of their country’s heritage in space.

At last year’s meeting, Feldstein said officials figured out a process for sharing information about missions, including what data should be collected and which office would handle disseminating the news. 

“We just did that for the first two CLPS missions,” she said. “We took this process that we decided on as a group of signatories because we created a home for those discussions.”

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