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    21 June 2013

    Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space concludes its 56th session in Vienna

    VIENNA, 21 June (UN Information Service) - The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) concluded its deliberations over ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes at its 56th session, held from 12 to 21 June. The goal is to ensure that space technology and its applications are used in support of the overarching global agendas for sustainable development.

    The 2013 session of Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) marked the fiftieth anniversary of the first space flight by a woman, cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova of the Russian Federation, using this unique opportunity to commemorate it from the perspective of women pioneers in advanced space and scientific endeavours. "A bird cannot fly with one wing only. Human space flight cannot develop any further without the active participation of women," Valentina Tereshkova said, encouraging more women to take part in space programmes.

    At its session, the Committee endorsed the agreement for an enhanced international coordination to deal with potential asteroid threats. The Committee's Action Team on Near-Earth Objects will assist in the establishment of an international asteroid warning network and a space mission planning advisory group, which form a part of the recommendations for an international response to an asteroid threat. The Committee also endorsed a set of recommendations on national legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space that provide guidance and support for countries that are in the process of developing their own national space legislation, which will be submitted to the General Assembly for consideration at its sixty-eighth session as a separate draft resolution.

    Under the new agenda item "Space and sustainable development", the Committee discussed contributions of space-technology-based data for sustainable development policymaking. In focus at the 2014 session of the Committee will be sustainable development in marine and coastal ecosystems. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) that serves as the Secretariat to the Committee will create a special webpage at containing documents related to the use of space technology for sustainable development.

    Other highlights of the 56th session of the Committee included:

    • The first woman in space, Valentina V. Tereshkova addressed the Committee in a special panel "Space: Building the Future Today, held on 12 June, that brought together eminent women in the fields of space exploration, science, technology, applications, business, policy and law. The Vienna International Centre hosted the Space Exhibit dedicated to women astronauts and cosmonauts, and offered Space Tours to visitors of the VIC. The Natural History Museum, Vienna, hosted a panel of women astronauts at a public event, organized by UNOOSA, in cooperation with the Association of Space Explorers, on 13 June.
    • Charles Bolden,Administrator of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for the first time addressed the Committee and informed delegates about a new asteroid initiative that NASA is developing together with international partners, which comprises two distinct yet related activities: the mission to redirect an asteroid to an orbit closer to Earth so humans can travel to it, and an effort to improve the detection, characterization, and mitigation planning for potentially hazardous asteroids.
    • UNOOSA signed a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) to establish the 16th Regional Support Office of the UN Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) on 19 June. The EMERCOM Regional Support Office of UN-SPIDER will serve as a centre of expertise and support UN-SPIDER capacity building efforts such as technical and evaluation missions and training programmes.
    • The four expert groups of the Working Group on the Long Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities met on the margins of the current session to work on the following issues: sustainable space utilization, space debris and space operations, space weather, and regulatory regimes for actors in space arena.
    • The permanent UNOOSA Space Exhibit Office was enriched by two satellite models that are now on display at the Vienna International Centre, and can be viewed as part of the guided tours offered by the VIC Visitor's Service. A Galileo navigation satellite model, donated by the European Commission, now complements the three models of navigation satellite systems, GPS (USA), GLONASS (Russian Federation) and Beidou/COMPASS (China). Israel donated a model of a high resolution Earth observation satellite "OPTSAT 2000", displaying technology that gathers vital space-based information crucial in areas such as environmental protection, water management, urban planning, humanitarian assistance and more.

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