The agreement notably comes seven months after founding members such as Australia, the US and the UAE signed up.
The Artemis Accords, launched in October last year, establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration co-operation among its 11 signatories. However, it has proved controversial, with both Russia and China refusing to join.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency, has previously compared the agreement to the international military alliance that invaded Iraq in 2003 – a conflict the country opposed.
Despite the delay, Dr Peter Crabtree, the head of the New Zealand Space Agency, signed the documents on Monday.
New Zealand is now the 11th signatory alongside Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, the US and Ukraine.
The New Zealand government said in a statement, “The Artemis Accords are an important first step, confirming that the extraction and use of space resources must be done consistently with existing international law, and that a multilateral process is required to progress this issue.”
The country’s Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, said, “As one of only a small number of states with space launch capability we take responsibilities of kaitiakitanga of the space environment seriously.
“New Zealand is committed to ensuring the next phase of space exploration is conducted in a safe, sustainable and transparent manner and in full compliance with international law.
“While existing international law provides high level rules around the utilisation of resources, we see a need for additional rules or standards to ensure the conservation and long-term sustainability of these resources. The Artemis Accords are an important first step in that regard.
“The ability to use space resources such as minerals on the moon and other celestial bodies is critical to enable the next phase of space exploration, including the possibility of sending humans to Mars.”
Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash added, “Our space sector is worth over $1.7 billion and our space manufacturing industry generates around $247 million per annum in revenue. Signing the Artemis Accords facilitates participation in the Artemis program by New Zealand and our space sector companies.
“NASA is explicitly seeking international collaboration and outsourcing key technology solutions to the private sector. Space exploration not only increases our knowledge of our planet and universe and encourages research, science and innovation, it also provides economic opportunities for New Zealand.”
Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, previously wrote on Twitter, “The principle of the invasion is the same, be it the moon or Iraq.
“Create a coalition of the willing and then, without UN or even Nato, move forward to the goal. But this will only result in a new Afghanistan or Iraq.”
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