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United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

UNOOSA, which stands for the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, is a division of the United Nations Secretariat that seeks to promote and facilitate international cooperation in space in a peaceful manner. UNOOSA is responsible for establishin
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Leadership team

Niklas Hedman (Acting) (Director )

Headquarters
Vienna, Austria
Year stablished
1958
Address
N-SPIDER Vienna International Centre P.O. Box 500. A-1400 Vienna Austria.
Summary

UNOOSA is a branch of the United Nations Secretariat that promotes and facilitates peaceful international cooperation in outer space, working to establish or strengthen the legal and regulatory frameworks for space activities, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology for sustainable socioeconomic development. The Office was established in 1958 to assist and advise the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which was set up by the UN General Assembly to explore the scientific and legal aspects of using outer space for the benefit of humanity. As the secretariat of COPUOS, UNOOSA is responsible for helping implement major international treaties, legal principles, and General Assembly resolutions that together comprise space law, as well as advising governments and nongovernmental organizations on space law, maintaining a registry of launched vessels and objects, convening forums to discuss various space-related matters, and sponsoring programs that provide access to space technology.


History

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) was established in 1958 by the United Nations (UN) to promote peaceful international cooperation in outer space, help establish or strengthen the legal and regulatory frameworks for space activities, and assist developing countries in using space science and technology for sustainable socioeconomic development. This move came after the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, which prompted a global conversation and debate on the legal, scientific, and political implications of space exploration.

UNOOSA was created as a small expert unit within the UN Secretariat in New York to assist the newly established Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which had been set up by the General Assembly in its resolution 1348 (XIII) to explore the scientific and legal aspects of using outer space for the benefit of humanity. The first meeting of COPUOS took place in 1959 to discuss a peaceful and legally ordered approach to space exploration.

In 1962, UNOOSA was moved to the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs (DPSCA) and was transformed into the Outer Space Affairs Division. The Outer Space Treaty, developed by COPUOS, entered into force in 1967, creating the first international legal framework governing the conduct of space activities.

In 1992, the Outer Space Affairs Division changed to its current form as the Office for Outer Space Affairs, remaining within the Department for Political Affairs and Peacebuilding, which succeeded the DPSCA. The following year, UNOOSA was relocated to its current headquarters at the United Nations Office at Vienna.

At the start of the 21st century, UNOOSA undertook several initiatives and programs to fulfill its mandate of promoting widespread and peaceful international involvement in space. In 2005, the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) was established to promote compatibility, interoperability, and transparency between all the satellite navigation systems, particularly for developing nations. The following year, the UN-SPIDER programme was created to provide an accessible platform for developing states to use space-based technologies for disaster management and emergency response. Two offices were established (in Bonn, Germany, and Beijing, China) to further the programme's work.

In 2009, Japanese astronaut Takao Doi became Chief of Space Applications. In 2010, the Human Space Initiative was launched to further UNOOSA's mission of providing developing countries with access to the use and exploration of space.

In March 2014, Simonetta Di Pippo of Italy, who had previously served as Director of Human Spaceflight at the European Space Agency, was appointed as the current Director of the Office.

In September 2015, pursuant to the Human Space Initiative, UNOOSA partnered with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to launch the "KiboCUBE" programme, which allows developing countries to deploy their own indigenously produced CubeSats from the Japanese Kibo module on the International Space Station. Through the programme, Kenya and Guatemala launched their first satellites in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

On 16 June 2016, UNOOSA announced a partnership with the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) to give nations the opportunity to fly their experiments and personnel on board the Chinese space station Tiangong. In September 2016, UNOOSA announced the first United Nations space mission, with an initial target launch date in 2021. The mission will utilize the Dream Chaser spaceplane, designed by the American Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), to enable developing nations to send microgravity payloads into low-Earth orbit. 


Goals and Purpose

UNOOSA's primary goal is to promote and facilitate peaceful international cooperation in outer space. To achieve this goal, UNOOSA focuses on several key areas, including establishing and strengthening legal and regulatory frameworks for space activities, assisting developing countries in using space science and technology for sustainable socioeconomic development, and providing a platform for governments and non-governmental organizations to discuss various space-related matters.

To further its goals, UNOOSA could consider several proposals. Firstly, UNOOSA could establish a global fund to support the development of space technology in developing countries. The fund could provide financial assistance to countries that lack the resources to invest in their own space programs, thereby facilitating their access to space technology.

Secondly, UNOOSA could promote international cooperation in space exploration and development by facilitating the sharing of data and research between countries. UNOOSA could set up a portal or platform for countries to share information and collaborate on space-related projects, which would lead to greater scientific and technological progress.

Thirdly, UNOOSA could work to develop international standards for space debris mitigation and management. With an increasing amount of debris in space, it is essential to develop guidelines and standards for the safe and sustainable use of outer space. UNOOSA could lead the development of such standards in collaboration with space agencies and industry partners.

Finally, UNOOSA could organize and host international forums and workshops to bring together experts and stakeholders in the space industry to discuss emerging issues and trends in space exploration and development. These forums could promote dialogue and facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices, leading to more effective and sustainable use of outer space.


Impact

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has had a significant impact on the peaceful and sustainable development of outer space since its establishment in 1958. Here are some examples of UNOOSA's impact:

Space Law: UNOOSA has been instrumental in the development of international space law. As the secretariat of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), UNOOSA has helped implement major international treaties, legal principles, and General Assembly resolutions that together comprise space law. The Outer Space Treaty, which entered into force in 1967, was developed by COPUOS and remains the foundational international legal framework governing the conduct of space activities.

Promoting Space Technology for Sustainable Development: UNOOSA has played an important role in assisting developing countries to use space science and technology for sustainable socioeconomic development. Through its UN-SPIDER programme, UNOOSA provides an accessible platform for developing states to use space-based technologies for disaster management and emergency response. The programme has helped many countries to use satellite imagery and other technologies to monitor and respond to natural disasters.

Increasing Access to Space: UNOOSA has also been working to increase access to space technology for developing countries. The Human Space Initiative, launched in 2010, aims to provide developing countries with access to the use and exploration of space. In partnership with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), UNOOSA launched the KiboCUBE programme in 2015, which allows developing countries to deploy their own indigenously produced CubeSats from the Japanese Kibo module on the International Space Station.

Space for Sustainable Development: In 2018, UNOOSA launched the Space for Sustainable Development initiative, which aims to use space science, technology, and applications to support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative focuses on four thematic areas: disaster risk reduction, environmental management, climate change, and sustainable urbanization.


References
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Leadership team

Niklas Hedman (Acting) (Director )

Headquarters
Vienna, Austria
Year stablished
1958
Address
N-SPIDER Vienna International Centre P.O. Box 500. A-1400 Vienna Austria.