Italy signed an agreement with NASA over the cooperation on the human lunar exploration, Artemis making it the latest country to sign the agreement. The details of the agreement and the participation of Italy have not yet been worked out. The ceremony that took place on the 25th of September via video conferencing saw NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Riccardo Fraccaro sign a joint declaration of intent to cooperate on Artemis with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
According to Bridenstine, the long successful history of collaboration in human spaceflight and Earth and space science and the Italian government’s immense support on the Artemis program assured that the partnership would extend to further collaborations in the next phase of exploration on the lunar surface.
Both parties did not announce the specifics of the projects that are part of the cooperation between the two. In a statement made in Italian, ASI president, Giorgio Saccoccia, inclined that the implementation agreements would outline the cooperation’s specifics. According to the statement, ASI is interested in the supply of the crew quarters, lunar surface scientific investigation, and telecommunication services.
The projected investment by Italy is about €1 billion. However, it was not clearly outlined whether the amount included the Italian government’s commitments to European Space Agency exploration programs. Italy committed to advocate and support exploration programs like the ESPRIT and iHab modules, which have been proposed for NASA’s lunar Gateway. According to Saccoccia, the country made massive contributions to the iHab module because it wanted to be a significant player in Artemis’s sustainability.
With this cooperation, Italy becomes one of the other several countries that have shown their interest in being part of the Artemis program. Either making agreements have made cooperation with these countries with NASA or commitment funding. The Canadian committed to providing a robotic arm for the Lunar Gateway program, and it would be expected to spend $1.5 billion in a span of 24 years on the project. The Japanese government also reached a consensus with NASA to contribute to the Artemis program by contributing systems like the pressurized lunar rover.
NASA has been able to also make partnerships with nontraditional partners to the program. For instance, NASA made a deal with the Australian government to cooperate in Artemis a year ago. The government pledged an expenditure of $105 million in five years for efforts on lunar exploration. The expenditure will be on adapting technologies in remote operations and mining to be used in lunar expeditions.