Angola signs Artemis Accords, becoming the 33rd nation to join the alliance

Angola today officially signed the Artemis Accords, becoming the 33rd nation to join this space alliance conceived during the Trump administration as a way to get around the limitations of the Outer Space Treaty.

The full list of signatories is as follows: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Columbia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the Ukraine, and the United States.

The competing alliance of communist nations, led by China, includes only Russia, Venezuala, Pakistan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and South Africa. That former deep Soviet bloc nations like Bulgaria and Romania, as well as previously very Marxist Angola, went with the west rather than China illustrates the international distrust of China and its authoritarian methods.

As bilateral agreements between the U.S. and each nation. the accords were designed to create for the U.S. a strong political alliance focused on protecting private property and capitalism in space, something the Outer Space Treaty essentially forbids. As I think it was conceived, the plan had been to use this alliance to eventually either force changes to the Outer Space Treaty, or abandon it entirely. Whether that plan will continue under Biden is unclear, and in fact there have been indications it will not.

These trends could all change should a different president take over after 2024.

Hat tip to BtB’s stringer Jay for cluing me in to this story.

Russia agrees to replace Angola’s first satellite, lost shortly after launch

Russia has agreed to replace Angola’s first satellite, lost shortly after launch, and have the replacement paid for by both insurance and Russia.

The minister confirmed that payment for the production of the second satellite would come from the insurance reimbursement for the lost AngoSat-1 satellite worth 121 million US dollars. The rest of the cost will be paid by the Russian side. The overall sum of the project amounts to 320 million US dollars.

The AngoSat-1 telecommunications satellite was launched by a Zenit-2SB carried rocket with a Fregat booster on December 26, 2017 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. Contact with the satellite was lost on the following day after the separation from the upper stage.

Essentially, this is another example of a Russian launch failure, as it appears the Russians have accepted blame for the failure.

Angola establishes its first space strategy

The new colonial movement: Angola has enacted its first space strategy, aimed at encouraging a new space industry in that nation.

The document is mostly government bureaucratic blather. More important, it seems mostly centered on what Angola’s governmental space agencies will do in the future. The policy makes nice about encouraging the private sector, but offers little to actually accomplish this.

Nonetheless, this action once again shows that more and more countries across the globe want in on the exploration of the solar system. The international competition is going to be fierce.