Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee to Hold 44th Session in Vienna

VIENNA, 9 February (UN Information Service) — The newly established space-system-based disaster management programme, a safety framework for nuclear power sources in outer space, mitigation guidelines for space debris and International Heliophysical Year 2007 will be the key agenda items at the 44th 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 12 to 23 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), possible dangers from near-Earth objects, the use of the geostationary orbit and matters related to remote sensing of the Earth by satellites, including applications for developing countries and monitoring of the Earth’s environment.

Member States will review the activities of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications in 2006 and the activities planned for 2007. The Programme, implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), 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, OOSA 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.

Events Open to the Public

A symposium on the Use of the Equatorial Orbit for Space Applications, jointly organized by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), will be held on 12 and 13 February, 16:00 hours, in Conference Room III, Vienna International Centre (VIC).

An exhibition on Thailand’s contribution to Earth’s environment from space-related activities will open on 14 February, 18:00 hours in the VIC Rotunda.

The official kick-off of the International Heliophysical Year (IHY) 2007, celebrated by countries around the world, will be the opening of an exhibition on IHY 2007 on 19 February, 18:00 hours, in the VIC Rotunda.

Implementation of UNISPACE III Recommendations

The Subcommittee will continue to consider the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III, which was held in Vienna in 1999. This year the Subcommittee will review the contribution that space science and technology and their applications could make in the areas of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification, with particular attention on Africa, which are all part of a thematic cluster to be addressed by the Commission on Sustainable Development in 2008 and 2009.

Space-System-Based Disaster Management Support

The Subcommittee will consider the work plan for 2007 and for the biennium 2008-2009 of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (SPIDER), that was established by the General Assembly in its Resolution 61/110 of 14 December 2006. The programme, which will be implemented by OOSA, will have an office in Beijing, China, and in Bonn, Germany. The Subcommittee will also hear presentations by the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” and other initiatives, as well as long-term perspectives of various Member States and space agencies on this subject.

Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space

This year will mark an important milestone in the work of the Subcommittee and its Working Group on this issue. The Subcommittee will consider a proposed outline for the international technically based framework of goals and recommendations for the safety of nuclear power source applications in outer space. Organizational structure, including future cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency in the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, will also be addressed.

Space debris

The Subcommittee will continue to consider the topic of space debris under a multi-year work plan. This year, the Subcommittee will consider the revised draft space debris mitigation guidelines for adoption. Reports by Member States and international organizations on their space debris research programmes will also be heard.

International Heliophysical Year 2007

The International Heliophysical Year (IHY) 2007 will be a global observation campaign of the interaction between the Sun and the Earth and will be commemorated by several events during the Subcommittee’s session. According to the work plan, the Subcommittee will consider reports on national and regional activities related to the IHY 2007 by interested Member States, scientific organizations and the IHY secretariat. This update will include information on the progress towards the carrying out of outreach, educational and research campaigns and on the definition and plans for deployment of instrument arrays in countries around the world. OOSA’s goal is to have the 192 Member States of the United Nations participate in the IHY 2007.

The exhibition on IHY 2007 in the Vienna International Centre Rotunda will present international and national programmes on the global observation campaign of the interaction between the Sun and the Earth and will open on 19 February. The Austrian Academy of Sciences will host a one-day symposium on the IHY 2007 on 20 February.

Near-Earth objects

Also under a multi-year work plan, the Subcommittee will continue to consider the topic of near-Earth objects (NEOs), which include celestial bodies such as asteroids and meteors that may cross the Earth’s orbit. 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 activity.


The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, like COPUOS, its parent committee, has the following 67 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, 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, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

The following inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: 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, 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 http://www.unoosa.org/.

For information contact:

Romana Kofler
Associate Programme Officer
Telephone: +43 1 26060-4962
E-mail: romana.kofler@unvienna.org

United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS)
P.O.Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: +43 1 260 60 – 3430; Fax: +43 1 260 60 7 5899
Email: UNIS@unvienna.org