Eight nations, including U.S., sign accords for moon missions

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ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 13 (UPI) — Eight nations have signed NASA’s new framework to govern lunar exploration missions, the agency’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine, announced Tuesday.

By signing the agreement, the eight nations commit to peaceful activities on the moon and in travel to the moon.

Provisions in the Artemis Accords stipulate that nations, and private companies in those nations, will openly disclose plans for lunar missions, and mine resources on the moon in accordance with the international Outer Space Treaty that dates to 1967.

The accords also commit signing nations to render aid to other nations on the moon if necessary, to minimize space debris and to register all objects taken to the lunar surface.

In addition to the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates and Britain signed the Artemis Accords.

“We are one human race and we are in this together. The Accords help us to work together to benefit all,” Sarah Al Amiri, chair of the United Arab Emirates Council of Scientists, said in a live broadcast Tuesday.

Bridenstine had said in a press conference Monday that more nations are expected to sign the accords this year, and that he hopes all nations eventually will.

“As NASA, we always try to be very transparent and what our plans and policies are, and we think it’s good for all nations to be transparent with their plans,” Bridenstine said.

The new agreement comes as NASA plans to return astronauts to the moon in 2024, with further plans to establish a lunar base to tap water ice for possible long-term habitation.

NASA officials on Monday acknowledged they didn’t approach all space-faring nations in drafting the accords because the agency wanted to move quickly. NASA sought a few nations believed to have common values, said Mike Gold, associate


Japan, UK, Australia, Italy, UAE among nations signing U.S. Artemis Accords on moon exploration

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In an interview ahead of the announcement, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the accords are “intended to create norms of behavior that all countries can agree to so that we can keep peace and prosperity moving forward in space and avoid any kind of confusion or ambiguity that can result in conflict.”

He said the accords, first announced in May, would build on the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans the use of nuclear weapons in space and prohibits nations from laying sovereign claim to the moon or other celestial bodies.

“There is nothing in the Artemis Accords that isn’t enshrined in the Outer Space Treaty,” Bridenstine said. “It’s a forcing function to get nations to comply with the Outer Space Treaty.”

The seven nations that signed are the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and Italy. It’s a somewhat eclectic mix, with countries like Japan, that have long been partners on the International Space Station, joining others, such as Australia and the UAE, that have relatively new but up and coming space programs. Bridenstine said the event Tuesday was only the beginning and that other nations would soon be joining. Ultimately, he said, the U.S. would create “the biggest, most diverse coalition of nations ever in the exploration of the moon and beyond.”

Signing the accords would also be a requirement for any nation wishing to partner with the U.S. in its Artemis program to return astronauts to the surface of the moon. But not all nations have reacted favorably to the agreements, or the lunar plan.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, previously compared the accords to an invasion that would lead to another “Iraq or Afghanistan.” On Monday, during the International Astronautical Congress, a global space conference, he said


University of the Nations in Hawaii confirms 30 virus cases

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KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — COVID-19 testing will be conducted on hundreds of staff and students at a university in Hawaii following a recent outbreak.

West Hawaii Today reported Monday that officials at the University of the Nations Kona confirmed 30 cases associated with the Big Island campus had been identified as of Monday.

All of the people who were infected have been isolated, university spokesperson Johnny Gillespie said.

The positive cases included 22 people living at the Kailua-Kona campus, while eight were staff members living away from the campus.

Monday’s tally of positive cases was higher than the 26 cases reported Saturday, although the school reported no new cases Sunday and Monday. Gillespie attributed the difference to a “reporting discrepancy.”

The majority of the cases were due to community spread in Kona, while four were believed to be related to travel, the school said.

Up to 200 staff members were expected to take part in campus testing by the state Department of Health Tuesday. An estimated 300 students who have been in quarantine since arriving in late September are expected to be tested Thursday.

“We have a high degree of confidence that there really is minimal risk to the wider community,” Gillespie said. “We’ll know a lot more after that round of testing happens.”

The campus is operating at less than 40% capacity, which the school said is below guidelines for universities and colleges issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The University of the Nations is affiliated with Youth With A Mission, an international Christian movement, the school’s website said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems


United Nations agencies call for increased investment in education

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Oct. 5 (UPI) — Now is the time to reimagine education around the world to make it more equitable for everyone, several United Nations agencies and their partners said in a joint statement Monday celebrating World Teachers’ Day.

While the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated inequities, the statement said teachers have led the way in innovation and creativity to serve students despite the limitations.

“In this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops, that no learner is left behind,” said the statement from Audrey Azoulay of UNESCO, Guy Ryder of the International Labor Organization, Henrietta H. Fore of UNICEF and David Edwards of Education International.

The statement said teachers have “individually and collectively” worked to find solutions and create environments where students could learn safely during the pandemic.

“Their role advising on school reopening plans and supporting students with the return to school is just as important,” the statement said.

The United Nations said the pandemic forced the school closures for more than 90% of the student population globally. It said it has had “devastating consequences” for those living on the margins around the world.

“We now need to think beyond COVID-19 and work to build greater resilience in our education systems, so we can respond quickly and effectively to these and other such crises,” the joint statement said. “Without urgent action and increased investment, a learning crisis could turn into a learning catastrophe.”

The partners called on increased investments into education around the world, upgrading educational education opportunities globally and protecting the safety and wellbeing of educators.

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