One Size to Fit Them All: Interoperability, the Artemis Accords and the Future of Space Exploration
On October 13th 2020, at the occasion of the 71st International Astronautical Congress, a coalition of 8 Countries including Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America presented a multilateral document called “The Artemis Accords”. Legally, the Artemis Accords constitute a political commitment towards certain “Principles for Cooperation in the Civil Exploration and Use of the Moon, Mars, Comets and Asteroids for Peaceful Purposes”. Politically, the Accords aim to “operationalize” the norms of the Outer Space Treaty for the development and execution of the Artemis Program. Unsurprisingly, this announcement has raised both appreciation and scepticism, with some States considering to sign the document and some others criticising the process as “too US- centric”. In parallel, the space law community has started to discuss the legal and policy impact of the Accords, with eminent colleagues either speaking in their support or calling for more cautiousness. In this context, this article focuses on the principle of interoperability described in Section 5 of the Accords, discussing its implications on the future of space exploration.