Image credit: NASA

The U.S. State Department is pressing forward on the concept of an “International Lunar Year” – coordinating programs around a one-to-two-year celebration of the study and exploration of the Moon later in the decade.

Such a celebration was put forth in a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Cislunar Science & Technology Strategy Cislunar Science & Technology Strategy released in 2022.

Earth’s Moon and cislunar space looms large in our future.
Credit: ESA/NASA

Enhance transparency

Last month, the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans, and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs hosted presentations from various organizations as to how an International Lunar Year (ILY) could “advance lunar science, enhance transparency, and foster new scientific and technological cooperation on issues relevant to an enduring presence at the Moon,” according to a State Department communiqué.

That cooperation would include infrastructure, scientific data-sharing, and best practices for safe and sustainable lunar operations.

Credit: White House

Cross-border connections

The July discussion emphasized connections to past international science years that “leverage and celebrate scientists’ unique cross-border connections,” explains the State Department.

The White House-issued U.S. National Cislunar Science & Technology Strategy, was released in November 2022. That strategy endorsed the concept of an International Lunar Year to be named sometime later in the decade and modeled on historical examples like the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58 or the International Polar Year of 2007-08.

“Leave behind” lunar capabilities

In the White House strategy document, it explains that the “ILY can amplify U.S. objectives being achieved with the Artemis Accords by fostering developments such as the coordinated use of Lunar data centers, coordinated Moon-based research (such as Lunar geophysical networks, solar science, and far side radio astronomy), and similar joint ‘leave behind’ capabilities.”

In addition, the cis-lunar strategy notes that “the ILY can also demonstrate how these activities can be carried out responsibly for the benefit and in the interests of all nations, including developing countries, while enhancing transparency and building confidence and cooperation among Moon-faring entities.”

3D printing is gaining traction as a technique of choice for establishing Moon base structures.
Credit: LIQUIFER Systems Group 2018/René Waclavicek

Wanted: enduring presence at the Moon

“As multiple nations and commercial entities plan a near-term return to the Moon on an unprecedented scale, now is the right time to consider planning an International Lunar Year,” a State Department website adds.

“A sustained program might combine elements of public outreach and scientific collaboration to fashion a vibrant interdisciplinary and multilateral effort, demonstrating how lunar exploration can be responsible, peaceful, and sustainable, as we begin to establish an enduring presence at the Moon.”

NASA’s Artemis program wants to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon.
Image credit: NASA

What next?

The United States will continue discussions and public outreach over the next year to build national and international support for an International Lunar Year.

Together with NASA and the National Science Foundation, the State Department can also carry out precursor activities such as virtual town halls or solicitations of community input for a proposed ILY program.

For further information, go to:

To access the White House cislunar strategy, go to:

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