Press Releases

    11 February 2008 

    Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee to Hold 45th Session in Vienna

    Hand-over ceremony to fly UN flag to space

    VIENNA, 11 February (UN Information Service) -- The newly established space-system-based disaster management programme (UN-SPIDER), possible dangers from near-Earth objects, a safety framework for nuclear power sources in outer space and space debris mitigation will be the key agenda items at the 45th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which will take place in Vienna, Austria, from 11 to 22 February.

    Other topics of discussion include a review of the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III), recent developments in Global Navigation Satellite Systems, the use of the geostationary orbit, International Heliophysical Year and matters related to remote sensing of the Earth by satellites, including applications for developing countries and monitoring of the Earth's environment.

    Symbolizing its commitment to the ideals of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, the Republic of Korea's first astronaut will carry a United Nations flag during his historic flight in April 2008. Alongside the Subcommittee's meeting, a hand-over ceremony of a small UN flag will take place on 21 February 2008 at the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), at which Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General, UNOV, will present the flag, on behalf of the UN, to H.E. Mr. Kim Sung-Hwan, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations in Vienna.

    Symposium: "Space industry in emerging space nations"

    The Symposium will address the role of the space manufacturing sector (satellites and their components, launchers, ground-support equipment) and the space service sector in emerging space nations. Space industry representatives will share their experiences on cooperation and competition between the already well established space industry actors and those that are just entering the global market. The symposium will be held on 12 February at 15.00 hours in Conference Room III, Vienna International Centre (VIC).

    Space-System-Based Disaster Management Support

    The General Assembly, in its resolution 62/217 of 21 December 2007, endorsed the UN SPIDER platform programme for the period 2007-2009 and the plan of work for the period 2008-2009. The new UN-SPIDER programme, which is implemented by UNOOSA opened its first office in Bonn, Germany, last October and will be opening an office in Beijing as well as a liaison office in Geneva, Switzerland. The Subcommittee will hear report on the implementation of the UN-SPIDER programme for the period 2008-2009 as well as presentations by the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" and other initiatives and long-term perspectives of various Member States and space agencies on this subject.

    Near-Earth objects

    Potential dangers from near-Earth objects (NEOs) will be considered by the Subcommittee and its Working Group on Near-Earth Objects that developed a new multi-year work plan 2008-2010 to consider NEOs due to their scientific value as remnant debris from the inner solar system formation processes, their richness in various natural resources as well as the possibility of their collision with the Earth. The Subcommittee will consider reports from Member States and international organizations on their near-Earth object activities, including space missions, search for NEOs and their tracking, as well as plans for future activities.

    Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space

    The Subcommittee last year proposed a partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency to prepare and publish the safety framework for nuclear power source (NPS) applications in outer space by establishing a joint experts group. The Joint Experts Group will meet during this session of the Subcommittee for additional considerations of the draft safety framework. The Working Group on NPS will also continue its work under the new work plan for the period of 2007-2010.

    Space debris

    Last year marked an important milestone in the work of the Subcommittee and its Working Group on this issue. The General Assembly endorsed mitigation guidelines for space debris, agreeing that voluntary guidelines for the mitigation of space debris reflected the existing practices as developed by a number of national and international organizations, and invited Member States to implement those guidelines through relevant national mechanisms. At this session, the Subcommittee will consider information received from Member States on national research on space debris, the safety of space objects with nuclear power sources on board and problems relating to their collision with space debris.

    Recent developments in global navigation satellite systems

    Under this new regular agenda item, the Subcommittee will consider issues related to the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG), the latest developments in the field of GNSS and new GNSS applications. The Subcommittee will also hear a report by the Chairman of ICG on its activities. ICG, which was established in 2005 on a voluntary basis, is an informal body to promote cooperation in civil satellite-based positioning, navigation, timing and value-added services, as well as the compatibility and interoperability of global navigation satellite systems.

    International Heliophysical Year

    This year will be the last in the multi-year work plan on the International Heliophysical Year, a global observation campaign of the interaction between the Sun and the Earth. The Subcommittee will consider reports by Member States, scientific organizations and the International secretariat on the progress of scientific campaigns, and the establishment of International Heliophysical Year databases, as well as plans for the continued deployment of instrument arrays and future activities.

    United Nations Programme on Space Applications

    Member States will also review the activities of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications in 2007 and the activities planned for 2008. The Programme, implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Within the framework of the Programme, UNOOSA conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on remote sensing, satellite-based communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, disaster management, satellite positioning and navigation, and space law.


    The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, like COPUOS, its parent committee, has the following 69 Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, 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, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

    The following intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: African Organization of Cartography and Remote Sensing, Association of Space Explorers, Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, Committee on Space Research, Regional Centre for Remote Sensing of the North African States, Eurisy, European Space Agency, European Space Policy Institute, International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation, International Astronomical Union, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, International Law Association, International Mobile Satellite Organization, Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, International Space University, National Space Society, Space Generation Advisory Council, The Planetary Society and World Spaceweek Association.


    The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to review the scope of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. COPUOS and its two Subcommittees each meet annually to consider questions put before them by the General Assembly, reports submitted to them and issues raised by the Member States. The Committee and the Subcommittees, working on the basis of consensus, make recommendations to the General Assembly.

    The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) 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 and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, UNOOSA maintains a website at

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    For further information, contact:

    Romana Kofler
    Associate Programme Officer
    Telephone: +43 1 26060-4962