For much of our lives – at least in the public arena – outer space was the domain of intrepid explorers. It was the final frontier, and our overarching objective was to reach “out there,” to figure out what lies beyond. As our understanding of space and our technology and ability to navigate space developed, however, we began to look down. We started to ask ourselves, how we can use this new frontier not only to learn about our planet, but to improve our livelihoods?
This shift in thinking has augured profound and positive changes for the world. The GPS in your car, the weather report on your phone, the solar panels on your roof, and the scratch-resistant polymer on your glasses all have their origins in space exploration. What this means broadly is that space is no longer the domain of a few astronauts or a handful of science and math specialists; space is for everyone. As a leader in space exploration, the United States is committed to exploring outer space for the benefit of all of humankind.
In September, Vice President Harris chaired the second National Space Council meeting of the Biden-Harris Administration. In this meeting, she affirmed that space is a priority for our country because of the very fact that space is humanity’s final frontier. It is an environment that is free for exploration and use by us all, and that can benefit all of us if we approach space exploration peacefully and sustainably.
Those ideals represent the driving ethos behind this Administration’s commitment to international collaboration in developing norms of responsible behavior and best practices that promote peaceful and sustainable space exploration to address some of our planet’s most pressing problems.
Last month, I traveled to Paris along with thousands of international scientists, policy makers, researchers, and commercial industry representatives for the 73rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which focused on the theme “Space for All.”
I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with government space leaders from nations in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific, and the Americas to discuss the development of rules of the road for promoting the long-term sustainability of the outer space environment.
The United States, France, and Brazil also took advantage of the gathering to co-host the first in-person meeting of Artemis Accords signatories. Established in 2020, the Artemis Accords are a multinational initiative that aims to guide safe and transparent civil space exploration and promote peaceful cooperation in space exploration and scientific endeavors.
In our meeting, Artemis Accords signatories discussed steps we can take as a coalition to promote sustainable space exploration, including deconfliction of activities on the Moon and human spaceflight safety. We also talked about promoting equity in access to space. With our partners, we brainstormed ways to expand the reach of the Artemis Accords so that more nations contribute to this discussion on rules of the road for the next era of space exploration.
As we pursue new and extraordinary discoveries in space and face unprecedented, planet-wide challenges here on Earth, it is essential that we continue working together as a global community to advance smart space science and policy. In Paris, the United States found many willing partners, whether they be researchers, startup founders, space agencies, CEOs, or diplomats like us. Back home in Washington, we are already hard at work turning these conversations into meaningful action to promote innovative civil and commercial space applications and harness their economic, environmental, and societal benefits for the world.