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    4 February 2011

    Future Use of Outer Space Discussed in Vienna

    VIENNA, 7 February (UN Information Service) - Sustainable future use of outer space, possible dangers from asteroids, space debris mitigation and disaster management will be key agenda items at the 48th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which takes place in Vienna, Austria, from 7 to 18 February. Other topics of discussion include space weather research, recent developments in global navigation satellite systems, the use of the geostationary orbit, and matters related to remote sensing of the Earth by satellites, including applications for developing countries.

    A number of events related to exploration, research, and space science and technology developments will be held during the session. On 8 February, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) will organize, in cooperation with the International Space Station partners, a seminar on research activities on the International Space Station (ISS), which in 2010 became the longest habitable outpost in space ever built. The seminar will provide information on utilization of facilities on the ISS and cooperation opportunities. Planetary protection and space exploration will be the main topics of the symposium held on 14 February, organized by the Committee on Space Research, focusing on the role of private sector in conducting space operations beyond Earth orbit. The workshop on the use of nuclear power sources in outer space will be held on 9 February, aimed at following up and re-enforcing the 2009 Safety Framework for Nuclear Power Sources Applications in Outer Space.

    Long-term sustainability of outer space activities

    Stressing the importance of the safe and sustainable future use of outer space, the Subcommittee established last year the Working Group on long-term sustainability of outer space activities that will prepare a report on the matter, examine measures to enhance the long-term sustainability of such activities and prepare a set of voluntary best-practice guidelines, including recommendations on possible improvements and complements to existing international coordination and information exchange mechanisms.

    Near-Earth Objects (asteroids)

    The Working Group on NEOs will continue seeking agreement on the draft international procedures for handling the NEO threat and engage international stakeholders as well as review progress on international cooperation on NEO observations. From 14 to 16 February, the Action Team on NEOs will review draft recommendations for international response to the NEO impact threat and will submit the draft for the consideration of the Working Group on NEOs of the Subcommittee.

    Space debris

    International cooperation to minimize the impact of space debris on future space missions and prompt implementation of appropriate space debris mitigation measures is vital for preserving the outer space environment for future generations. Following the endorsement of the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Committee by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/217, the Subcommittee will review the implementation by Member States of space debris mitigation measures on a voluntary basis through national mechanisms.

    Space-System-Based Disaster Management Support

    The Subcommittee will consider the progress made in 2010 in implementing the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), including technical advisory support activities carried out in 2010 by UN-SPIDER and the support provided by this programme to response efforts to major disasters.

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    For further information, please contact:

    Romana Kofler
    Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4962