This piece originally appeared in The Hill.
Ties between India and the U.S., boosted in recent years by common geopolitical interests in the Indo-Pacific, have blossomed in outer space.
In June, India became the 27th nation to sign the Artemis Accords, an American-led set of principles for the 21st century aimed at peaceful exploration of and cooperation in space. While India’s accession is certainly cause for celebration, long-term space policy alignment is not guaranteed by signing nonbinding principles. In addition to further expansion, the U.S. should use the accords as an intergovernmental forum and a tool of public diplomacy, moving from signatures to long-term engagement, as we get closer to once again sending humans beyond low-Earth orbit.
The Trump Administration launched the Artemis Accords in 2020 as part of NASA’s Artemis Program, aiming to build international consensus around norms for cooperation and peaceful exploration and use of the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The principles themselves are nonbinding, but their strength comes from the diversity of their signatories, cementing consensus in space. Beyond traditional U.S. space partners like Canada, Japan, and Europe, the accords have be signed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, and now India.