VIENNA, 12 June (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) concluded its fifty-fourth session and its deliberations over ways and means to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes and to ensure that space technology and its applications continue to benefit many areas critical to all humanity.
The Committee dedicated its first day to the commemorations of two remarkable anniversaries: 50 years of human space flight and the 50th anniversary of the first session of the Committee, adopting a Declaration that reaffirmed the importance of the use of outer space for peaceful purposes and common efforts to use space science and technology and their applications to preserve planet Earth and its space environment for future generations. Ministers, heads of space agencies, astronauts and cosmonauts, including Alexey Leonov, the first person to perform a spacewalk, and other dignitaries addressed the pivotal role of the Committee over the course of 50 years in enhancing international cooperation in space activities for the benefit of all countries and the achievements of the 50 years of human space flight, which began on 12 April 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth. The crew of the International Space Station payed tribute to Yuri Gagarin and to all those who have followed him.
"Space science and technology make a major contribution to the well-being of humanity and play a vital role in supporting sustainable development on Earth.The future of humanity will depend on the continued applications of space technology and on the peaceful uses of outer space," Mazlan Othman, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), said.
UNOOSA invited the public to celebrate these anniversaries by organizing “Space Days at the United Nations” to meet astronauts and cosmonauts, touch a Moon rock or join a Space Tour at the Vienna International Centre (VIC). The Space Exhibition which can be seen as part of the guided tours is open until 30 June and visitors can be guided through the touchable Moon rock and models of the International Space Station; rocket, satellite and spacecraft models. More than 25 States and organizations are displaying their national space accomplishments.
Highlights of the 54th session of the Committee include:
The round table on space exploration and the future of humankind was held on 1 June to discuss the role of space science and technology and their applications in addressing global challenges such as climate change, health and disaster management; further development and challenges in human space flight programmes and the prospects of space exploration in the future; the importance of education and outreach programmes in the area of space activities; the prospects for the development of space science and technology in developing countries; and the need for regional and interregional cooperation in space activities.
The Committee adopted the terms of reference and methods of work of the Working Group on Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, which will work on development of national and international practices to enhance the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, including the improvement of the safety of space operations and the protection of space environment.
The Committee also decided on its contribution to be submitted to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012.
UNOOSA organized, as part of the Human Space Technology Initiative (HSTI), demonstration of the Desktop Random Positioning Machine (RPM), which simulates weightlessness for living objects like plants, cells, bacteria, and allows scientists to prepare experiments for a space flight. The machine can also be used as an affordable educational tool for students to learn about microgravity science.
The Action Team 14 on Near-Earth Objects met on the margins of the Committee to continue its work on the draft recommendations for an international response to the near-Earth object impact threat that will be finalized by 2013.
A special symposium was organized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), entitled “Special dual anniversary”, which reviewed the history of cooperation between the Committee and IAF.
The Committee welcomed Tunisia as the new, 70th member of the Committee, and the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) as the new non-governmental organization with permanent observer status with the Committee.
A message book of space explorers was launched by UNOOSA, an initiative that aims to create a distinctive collection of messages of space explorers to future generations, that will capture the fortitude and spirit of the men and women who venture beyond our Earth’s atmosphere and to inspire, through these messages, present and future generations to continue investing in mathematics, science and technology.
UNOOSA clips from UN Radio:
For further information contact:
Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4962
Email: romana.kofler [at] unoosa.org