The government has put £16m of funding into the mission to land the first woman on the Moon.
Within the next four years, the NASA-led Artemis project aims to land the first humans on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. Among the next batch of Moonwalkers will be the first woman to set foot on the celestial object.
She will join an elite group that currently consists of just 12 people – only four of whom are still alive.
The government has committed £16m of funding to Artemis and pledged that “the UK will play a key role” in the programme, with businesses from this country helping to construct the modules to be used by astronauts.
Alongside the UK Space Agency, government bodies from seven other nations have signed accords to cooperate on the mission: the US; Japan; Australia; Canada; Italy; Luxembourg; and the United Arab Emirates.
The agreements also signal the countries’ desire to share data with one another and, ultimately, “establish a set of principles to govern the civil exploration and use of outer space”.
Science minister Amanda Solloway said: “The prospect of the first woman landing on the Moon in the coming years will be a source of inspiration for thousands of young people across the UK who may be considering a career in space or science. Today’s historic agreement, backed by £16m of UK funding, underlines our commitment to strengthening the UK’s role in the global space sector, building on our existing strengths in satellites, robotics and communications to grow our economy and improve life on Earth.”
UK Space Agency chief executive Graham Turnock was tasked with signing the Artemis Accords during a virtual ceremony that took place during the Astronautical Congress.
“Signing the accords is a strong signal of our intent to take a leading global role in civil space,” he said. “We hope to deepen our relationship with the US when it comes to space and enhance the UK’s global influence in the space sector. This exciting step could open up new opportunities for UK companies and scientists to be part of NASA missions to the Moon and Mars.”
Sam Trendall is the editor of PublicTechnology, where a version of this story first appeared.