The Republic of Korea, the official name of South Korea, has joined the moon exploration coalition of NASA, becoming the tenth country to sign the Artemis Accords on May 24 at a ceremony in Seoul.
The Artemis Accords is a set of principles laying out the responsible exploration of the Moon. It takes its name after the Artemis program that aims to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon by 2030.
"I am thrilled the Republic of Korea has committed to the Artemis Accords. Their signature demonstrates the strong momentum worldwide in supporting our moon-to-Mars exploration approach," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in the space agency's news release.
South Korea Aims to Land on Moon By 2030
South Korea becomes the first country to sign the Accords under the administration of US President Joe Biden. But before them, other countries have already signed.
This includes the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, Space.com reported.
The East Asian country has expressed its growing interest in the moon in the past months. South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared earlier this March that they aim to send its own lander, called Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), to the lunar surface by 2030 via their domestically developed rocket.
"By 2030, we will achieve our dream of landing on the moon by using our own launch vehicle. The technological prowess, experience, and confidence that will be gained from exploring the moon, the first step in space exploration, will provide a solid foundation for space development," Moon said according to Space.com.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) did not respond to a request for comment on the moon landing mission but is said to be developing the KPLO for its launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in August 2022.
The Korean space agency is also working on a three-stage liquid rocket called Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri), with its first flight planned this October.
More Countries to Join in the Artemis Accords
According to NASA's news release, more countries are expected to join in the Artemis Accords in the next months and years as it continues to work on international partners to establish a safe and responsible moon exploration.
NASA coordinated with the US Department of State to establish the Artemis Accords in 2020. It reinforces and implements the 1967 Outer Space Treaty or otherwise known as the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.
Karen Feldstein, the associate administrator for international and interagency relations at NASA, said that many countries are interested to sign the Artemis Accords and that it is expected that three more will sign in the next few weeks.
Although they did not disclose what countries these were, Space News reported that the most likely candidates are Brazil and New Zealand.
A few months ago, Brazil signed a joint statement of intent with NASA that signals its interest in joining the Artemis Accords. Meanwhile, New Zealand has expressed its intent to on last year but was only delayed due to the general election in October.
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