Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee to Hold 46th Session in Vienna

VIENNA, 9 February (UN Information Service) – 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 46th 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 9 to 20 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), space-system-based disaster management support, 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. On the first day of the session, a symposium, organized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), will be held on the role of earth observation satellites in promoting understanding of and addressing climate change concerns.

Near-Earth Objects

Potential dangers from Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) will be considered by the Subcommittee and its Working Group on Near-Earth Objects under the multi-year work plan 2009-2011 to consider NEOs due to the possibility of their collision with the Earth as well as their scientific value as remnant debris from the inner solar system formation processes and their richness in various natural resources. 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’s partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency to prepare and publish the safety framework for the use of nuclear power source (NPS) applications in outer space has made progress through the Joint Expert Group, which will meet on the margins of the session to continue its deliberations of the draft safety framework and report to the Working Group on NPS under the workplan for 2007-2010. An up-dated draft of the Safety Framework (A/AC.105/C.1/L.292/Rev.2) will be also considered by the Subcommittee.

Space debris

Following the endorsement of the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/217, Member States have made increased efforts to implement measures for space debris mitigation on a voluntary basis, through national mechanisms and consistent with the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee and with the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Committee. The Subcommittee will have before it a note by the Secretariat 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, containing information received by the Secretariat from Member States (A/AC.105/923 and Add.1).

Space-System-Based Disaster Management Support

In its resolution 63/90, the General Assembly noted with satisfaction the progress made within the framework of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) in the implementation of the platform programme for the period 2007-2009, including inaugurating and making the UN-SPIDER office in Bonn, Germany fully operational. The Subcommittee will consider a report on UN-SPIDER outreach activities carried out in 2008 (A/AC.105/927) and a report on the progress made in 2008 in implementing the programme (A/AC.105/929).

Recent developments in global navigation satellite systems

Under this recently added 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 have before it a report of the activities carried out within the framework of the ICG workplan in 2008 (A/AC.105/922) and hear a report by the Chairman of ICG on its activities. ICG held its third meeting in Pasadena, United States, from 8 to 12 December 2008, and a report on that meeting is contained in document A/AC.105/928.

United Nations Programme on Space Applications

Member States will also review the activities for the period 2008-2009 of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). The Programme 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 Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, European Space Agency, European Space Policy Institute, European Telecommunications Satellite Organization, International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation, International Astronomical Union, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, International Institute of Space Law, 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, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, Secure World Foundation, Space Generation Advisory Council, Spaceweek International Association and The Planetary Society.


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 (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 and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at www.unoosa.org

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For further information, please contact:

Jamshid Gaziyev
Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4958
Email: jamshid.gaziyev@unoosa.org

United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS Vienna)
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