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EDITORIAL: Play nice, now

January 22, 2023 at 1:45 a.m.

More than 20 countries have signed NASA's Artemis Accords, essentially a play-nice pledge regarding the increasing level of activity in space and on the surface of the moon.

The accords would establish a set of rules for space-faring nations that do business in orbit or plan to do so on the moon. These rules include sharing scientific discoveries, the creation of lunar safety zones where countries could work undisturbed, working together in emergency situations . . .

What the Artemis Accords really do is signal to the Red Chinese that the United States plans to remain the world's leader in space. When the flying saucers finally pick a national capital to visit and commence formal relations, they will land on the White House lawn, thank you.

One industry official who helped frame the accords cut to the chase: "Our partners don't want to work with the Chinese, by and large, but if America fails to lead, they'll have no other choice."

Though the latest space race boils down to the U.S. and Communist China, more nations are eyeing the moon's potential cheddar. Israel and India have attempted to land spacecraft on the moon and South Korea successfully sent a craft into lunar orbit.

A private Japanese lunar lander is on its way, courtesy of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. With private industry now able to reach the stars, more nations are planning to develop space programs.

Ultimately, NASA's Artemis Accords will set a precedent--international rules of the road--for the Chinese and Russians to consider, officials say. No more irresponsible blasting of dead satellites or rocket boosters falling uncontrollably back to Earth and threatening populated areas.

And on paper, these rules would prohibit one country from hoarding all the lunar goodies that wait to be discovered there.

As mankind inches closer to the commercialization of the moon and low Earth orbit, it's doubtful anyone expects the Russians or Chinese to play by the rules. But with the Artemis Accords, now they won't be able to say, "There were no rules."

Print Headline: Play nice, now

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