Rwanda and Nigeria on Tuesday signed Artemis Accords - a directive on guiding the next space exploration - making both countries the first African signatories to the agreement. The Artemis Accords are a set of principles to guide the next phase in space exploration, reinforcing and providing for important operational implementation of key obligations in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Basically, signatories of the agreement share a vision for principles to create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all humanity in outer space. This brings the total number of signatories to 23. Francis Ngabo, Chief Executive at Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) signed the agreement, an event that was held at the sidelines of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC, United States. President Paul Kagame also graced the ceremony alongside Cameroon President Paul Biya, NASA administrator Bill Nelson, among other dignitaries. “Enabling shared opportunities for peaceful space explorations will benefit humanity through the discovery of solutions for cutting-edge space technologies, advances in medicine, protection of the planet and environment, creation of scientific and technical jobs and scientific breakthroughs from exploring the unknown,” said Ngabo. He added, “Even though Rwanda is currently focused on the downstream space segment, we are keeping an open mind on the upstream and want to be a part of advocating for responsible use of outer space”. The event, first of its kind, aims to leverage outer space to meet shared goals for the US-Africa relationship on Earth, featuring broader Panera discussions on the use of space to support sustainable development goals, capacity building. Partnerships key While NASA is leading the Artemis missions, experts say that international partnerships will play a key role in achieving a sustainable and robust presence on the Moon while preparing to conduct a historic human mission to Mars. “The Artemis Accord is all about what we should do peacefully in space, signaling the intention to help each other out, standardization of instruments so we can come to each other's aid when there is a problem,” NASA’s Nelson reiterated. Two years ago, the Rwanda Space Agency was established with an aim of establishing a space research and development center. The agency would also be geared towards securing communication, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) as well as purchasing and playing a custodian role of national spatial data and imagery. It is also responsible for providing geospatial services for development activities in various domains such as agriculture, urban planning, emergency response and weather forecasts, among others. The New Times understands that as it stands the agency is seeking to partner with different Key US industry partners such as E-space, a global space company focused on bridging Earth and Space with a sustainable low earth orbit (LEO) network. Already, the company is setting up an office in Kigali. RSA is also in talks with ATLAS Space Operations, the fastest growing teleport operator in the world, a partnership that would see Kigali host the Atlas Antenna.