Czechia signs NASA Artemis Accords to bolster space exploration

The treaty opens the door for Czech aerospace companies to work with NASA, and sets out an international cooperation framework.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 04.05.2023 10:14:00 (updated on 04.05.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czechia has become the 24th country to join the Artemis Accords, which establishes international cooperation in exploring the moon, Mars, and other space bodies. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský signed the agreement at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"This is a step toward strengthening our cooperation with the United States and other close partners on space exploration missions," the Czech Foreign Ministry said in a press release. The Artemis Accords are a policy statement setting out the principles that will guide the peaceful exploration of space through the Artemis Program.

“I see it as a historic signature. We are joining our likeminded partners in advancing peaceful, cooperative, and sustainable exploration of space,” Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said.

“Czechia’s space ecosystem has a lot to offer. We believe that this signature will kick-start the development of an institutional and industrial cooperation within the Artemis community, as well as directly between Czechia and the U.S., in the field of space activities, including those leading to a potential space flight.”

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Jennifer R. Littlejohn, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, and U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Bijan Sabet welcomed the Czech Republic at the signing ceremony at NASA Headquarters.

“We are living through a golden age of exploration. Gone are the days of one nation exploring the cosmos alone,” NASA’s Nelson said. “Along with our fellow Artemis Accords signatories, the United States and the Czech Republic are setting a standard for 21st-century exploration and use of space. As we explore together, we will explore peacefully, safely, and transparently.”

Creating a framework for a peaceful future in space

Littlejohn said the accords guide us toward a future of optimism and promise. “They encourage cooperation and responsible behavior in space. This is a vital foundation for space exploration. Congratulations to the Czech Republic!” she said.

The accords, which reaffirm the international framework established by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and other multilateral treaties, offer broad opportunities for the Czech space industry, science and research.

Miloslav Stašek, Czech ambassador to the United States, said the accord didn’t guarantee participation in any projects but it opened the door for negotiations. “We are preparing several missions from the Czech Republic to the U.S. to explore how we can work closer,” he said, according to news server SpaceNews.

Czechia has a long history in space exploration

During the ceremony Lipavský presented NASA’s Nelson with a reproduction of an original drawing made by a Czechoslovak boy named Petr Ginz who was murdered at Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. The boy wrote novels and made his own illustrations including this one depicting planet Earth seen from the moon.

The Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia have a long tradition in space technology development and space research, going back to 1978 when Czechoslovak cosmonaut Vladimír Remek participated in the Soyuz 28 mission to the Salyut 6 space station. He was the first person who was not a U.S. or Soviet citizen to go into space.

Prague is currently the seat of the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), which is responsible for systems such as Galileo and Copernicus. Czech companies also participated in the JUICE mission to Jupiter's moons that was launched on April 14.

NASA, in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, established the Artemis Accords in 2020 along with the other eight original signatories.  

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