Building on the growing international support for NASA’s Artemis program, agency leaders continued their bilateral discussions with world leaders on the fourth day of the 70th International Astronautical Conference in Washington.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine began Thursday with a meeting with President Jean-Yves Le Gall of France’s space agency the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) to discuss French support for bilateral and European cooperation in human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Following their meeting, Bridenstine and Le Gall signed an update to an agreement for cooperation between the agencies on the U.S.-France Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. SWOT will create the first global survey of Earth’s surface water, which will help us better understand our freshwater resources. Set to launch in 2021, SWOT is the latest in a series of ocean altimetry missions resulting from U.S.-France cooperation.
Bridenstine also met with Israel Space Agency Director Avigdor Blasberger to discuss areas of mutual cooperation and future exploration plans. Israel, together with the German Aerospace Center, is developing a vest for human exploration. The vests will be flight-tested on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission.
The Polish Space Agency (POLSA) also expressed its support for the Artemis program by signing a joint statement with Bridenstine focused on strengthening cooperation between the United States and Poland. Through ESA (European Space Agency), Poland has been involved in plans for elements of the lunar Gateway.
Bridenstine held a media availability in the late morning at the NASA exhibit, where he took questions from national and international reporters. The administrator answered questions on a wide range of topics including future robotic missions to the Moon and Mars, to the selection of Artemis astronauts.
Representatives from the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), which recently sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station, met with Bridenstine to discuss possible opportunities for UAE astronauts to train in the United States, as well as commercial industry activity in low-Earth orbit, the space between Earth and the Moon, and on Mars.
In the afternoon, Bridenstine spoke at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition finals, hosted by the International Institute of Space Law, where law students – with support from NASA’s Office of General Counsel and Office of STEM Engagement – participate in a hypothetical legal case.