June 1 (UPI) -- New Zealand on Tuesday announced it has become the latest country to join a NASA agreement on the peaceful exploration of space.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash announced New Zealand signed the Artemis Accords on Monday in a statement, making it the 11th nation to join the accord and the second to do so under the Biden administration.
"New Zealand's participation in the Artemis Accords is an historic moment for our nation and our highly regarded local space industry," Nash said.
The Artemis Accords, which was established by the U.S. State Department last year, sets out principles for space exploration among participating nations. Under the Artemis program, NASA intends to send the first woman to the Moon by 2024 and then later send a human mission to Mars.
The Oceania nation's space agency was set up in 2016 while its space sector is worth more than $1.2 billion, according to the New Zealand government, which said one aspect of the accord that it wants to further develop is space resource conservation.
Mahuta said New Zealand views the accords as we way to create needed rules and standards to ensure the conservation and long-term sustainability of these resources.
"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," she said. "New Zealand is committed to collaborating with all stakeholders across all space issues to ensure that the space environment will be available and accessible for the benefit of all, now and into the future."
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson credited the archipelago nation in a video statement with contributing to the accord's development.
"New Zealand, along with seven other nations, helped craft the principles espoused in the Artemis Accords," he said. "These simple, universal principles will enable the next generation of international partnerships for the exploration of the Moon and beyond."
New Zealand's signing on to the accord follow's South Korea joining it May 24.
The other signatories are Australia, Britain, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and the United States with more expected to sign on in the near future.