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International Cooperation in Outer Space
April 30, 2021

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins participates in a December 2013 spacewalk. (NASA)
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins participates in a December 2013 spacewalk. (NASA)


International cooperation is the new normal in space exploration, but it’s not a new concept.

In fact, the National Aeronautics and Space Act that created NASA in 1958 states that every effort will be made to cooperate with the international community. Today, there is an unprecedented level of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

One example of this cooperation is the International Space Station (ISS). Launched in 1998, the ISS has been a shining example of international cooperation for over 20 years, bringing many benefits to humanity. An international partnership of space agencies provides and operates the elements of the ISS, including the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and the participating countries of the European Space Agency.

Another advance in international cooperation in the peaceful exploration of outer space came with the Artemis Accords. Introduced in October 2020, the Artemis Accords establish a set of principles to guide space cooperation among countries participating in NASA’s Artemis program, which will see NASA land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon. The Artemis Accords accords help create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science, and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy.

And here in Vienna, we work closely with United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the wider international space community via the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). UNOOSA, COPUOS, and COPUOS’s Subcommittees have made substantial contributions to promoting international cooperation in support of the peaceful uses of outer space for all. In December 2020, NASA and UNOOSA signed an historic memorandum of understanding (MoU), expanding and enhancing the longstanding relationship between the United States and the United Nations in outer space affairs.

The United States looks forward to working with our international partners to strengthen peaceful international space cooperation for the benefit of all humankind.