Press Releases

    Background Release

    12 February 2004

    Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee to Hold 41st Session in Vienna, 16-27 February

    VIENNA, 12 February (UN Information Service) -- Reviewing the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 1999 (UNISPACE III), and preparing for the General Assembly’s review in October of the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III, will be the key agenda item of the 41st  session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which will meet in Vienna from 16 to 27 February 2004. 

    Other topics of discussion include the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, possibilities for reducing space debris created by space missions, the use of space-based systems for telemedicine, as well as space-based disaster management.

    Nuclear Power Sources

    The Subcommittee will continue to consider the use of nuclear power sources in outer space under a work plan that covers the period from 2003 to 2006. Among other things, the Subcommittee will review information from national and regional space agencies on national space nuclear power source programmes and applications planned or currently foreseeable. The Subcommittee will also prepare a draft outline of the objectives, scope and attributes for an internationally technically based framework of goals and recommendations for the safety of nuclear power source applications in outer space.

    Space Debris

     The Subcommittee is in the third year of its work plan on the topic of space debris. Last year, the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), a body consisting of representatives from various national space agencies, presented to the Subcommittee proposals for reducing the amount of newly-created space debris. According to the plan, the Subcommittee this year may discuss the way forward on the utilization of the IADC proposals on debris mitigation as guidelines to be implemented on a voluntary basis through national mechanisms.                                                       

    Space-system-based telemedicine

    Also as part of a new multi-year work plan, the Subcommittee will address the topic of space-system-based telemedicine. Among other things, the Subcommittee at this year’s session will hear presentations by Member States on the status of telemedicine applications in general, and space-based telemedicine applications used in their countries.

    Disaster Management

    The Subcommittee will continue to discuss the implementation of an integrated, space-based global natural disaster management system. Space technology, such as remote sensing satellites, navigation satellites and telecommunication satellites is already used extensively for disaster management. For instance, remote sensing satellites can be used to map features of interest in regions where disasters are likely to occur, and following a disaster, they can provide up-to-date images of the affected area. Satellite communications help connect regions affected by disasters to the outside world, when ground infrastructure is damaged or destroyed. The Subcommittee will consider proposals by the Action Team on Disaster Management, which was established by the COPUOS in 2001, under the co-chairmanship of Canada, China and France, and consists of more than 40 countries.


    The Subcommittee session will coincide with the opening of a special exhibition entitled “Space State - Ukraine” at the Vienna International Centre. The exhibition, jointly organized by the Office for Outer Space Affairs and the National Space Agency of Ukraine, will display models of launch vehicles and rocket engines built by Ukraine. Two additional exhibitions will be on display during the session of the Subcommittee: one on “Mars Exploration” and the other on “Solar-terrestrial physics”, both co-organized by the United States and the Office for Outer Space Affairs. The exhibitions can be viewed as part of a guided tour through the Vienna International Centre.


    The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, like COPUOS, its parent committee, has the following Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Hungary, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

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    The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at