Belgium signs Artemis Accords for responsible moon exploration

Belgium signed the Artemis Accords on Tuesday (Jan. 23), becoming the 34th nation to become part of the moon-exploration framework.

Belgium signs Artemis Accords for responsible moon exploration
From left to right: Tim Richardson, chargé d’affaires, U.S. Embassy Belgium, Raphaël Liégeois, Belgian astronaut, Thomas Dermine, Belgian secretary of state for science policy, Hadja Lahbib, Belgian minister of foreign affairs, and Frank De Winne, Belgian astronaut, during the Artemis Accords signing ceremony in Brussels on Jan. 23, 2024. (Image credit: Nathan De Fortunato)

Another nation has joined the United States' moon-exploration framework.

Belgium signed the Artemis Accords on Tuesday (Jan. 23), becoming the 34th country to do so.

"Congratulations to Belgium on becoming the newest member of the Artemis Accords family," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. "It's clear that countries around the world understand the opportunity that space presents. As the 34th signatory of the Artemis Accords, Belgium is showing great leadership in committing to responsible exploration in the 21st century."

As Nelson noted, the Artemis Accords lay out a set of principles for peaceful and responsible exploration of the final frontier — particularly the moon, which NASA is targeting with its Artemis program.

Artemis aims to establish a permanent, sustainable human presence on and around Earth's nearest neighbor by the end of the 2020s. NASA plans to achieve this goal with the help of a variety of commercial and international partners (including a number of Accord signatories).

Belgium joined up during a Tuesday ceremony at the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, with Hadja Lahbib and Thomas Dermine signing on behalf of the country.

"Joining the Artemis Accords reflects our logic of cooperation and enables Belgium to join the working group of states that have already signed," said Dermine. Dermine is Belgium's state secretary for economic recovery and strategic investments, and is in charge of science policy for the nation.

"Belgium always has its feet on the ground and its head in the stars," added Lahbib. Lahbib is the nation's minister of foreign affairs, European affairs and foreign trade, and federal cultural institutions. 

"Our country is one of the world leaders in space exploration," she said. "The signing of the Artemis Accords shows our ongoing commitment to sustainable and responsible space, and will strengthen ties with international partners. It will also open new economic opportunities for our companies, which have world-renowned expertise in the space sector."