United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions

  

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What does the United Nations have to do with space?

The United Nations is involved in many areas related to the peaceful uses of outer space. The intergovernmental Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its subsidiary bodies serve as a forum for discussion of relevant issues among Member States; the Office for Outer Space Affairs disseminates a broad range of information on space activities and applications and assists developing countries in gaining access to space technology and applications through the Programme on Space Applications; many of the specialized agencies and other entities within the United Nations system also utilize space technology, particularly data from remote sensing and Earth observation systems, in specific programmes relative to their respective mandates.

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Does the United Nations have its own satellites?

No, the United Nations does not possess any space hardware of its own. It does utilize the satellite communications system of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT) for some of its communications needs. Member States of the United Nations also provide imagery from their satellites for the many UN projects that use remote sensing data.

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What is the primary United Nations entity dealing with space?

The Office for Outer Space Affairs is the focus of expertise within the United Nations Secretariat. The Office is based in Vienna.

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What is the Office for Outer Space Affairs and what does it do?

The Office for Outer Space Affairs is the focus of expertise within the United Nations Secretariat. It serves as the secretariat for the intergovernmental Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and implements the recommendations of the Committee and the United Nations General Assembly. The Office is also responsible for organization and implementation of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications.

On behalf of the Secretary-General, the Office also maintains the Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space and disseminates information transmitted by Member States and other parties to the Registration Convention.

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What is the United Nations Programme on Space Applications and what does it do?

The United Nations Programme on Space Applications is part of the Office for Outer Space Affairs. Its primary function is the organization of a series of 8-10 annual seminars, workshops and conferences on particular aspects of space technology and applications. These activities are organized primarily for the benefit of the developing countries and emphasize the use of space technology and applications for economic and social development. The programme also provides technical assistance to Member States of the United Nations in organizing and developing space applications programmes and projects.

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What is the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and what does it do?

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations General Assembly. It currently has 67 members and a wide range of non-governmental and other international organizations active in various fields related to the peaceful uses of outer space are accredited observers of the Committee.

The Committee is comprised of two subcommittees: the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. Each body meets annually to discuss the current items on their respective agendas.

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Does the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space deal with issues related to the militarization of outer space?

No, the Conference on Disarmament, based in Geneva, considers matters related to the militarization of outer space.

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What other parts of the United Nations system have anything to do with space?

Many other parts of the United Nations system are actively involved in the application of space technology for the benefit of Member States. They include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations regional economic and social commissions in Africa and Asia and the Pacific, as well as specialized agencies and other organizations in the United Nations system, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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How are the various space activities of the United Nations coordinated?

Coordination of space activities within the United Nations system is conducted through the annual Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities which is attended by all United Nations entities that are active in the field of space activities and applications. The Meeting reviews all on-going and planned activities to ensure their complementarity and to avoid duplication of effort. The Secretary-General issues an annual report on Coordination of Outer Space Activities Within the United Nations System which is considered at the Inter-Agency Meeting.

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How can I contact the Office for Outer Space Affairs?

The address of the Office for Outer Space Affairs is:

Room E-0952
Office for Outer Space Affairs
United Nations Office at Vienna
Vienna International Centre
A-1400 Vienna
Austria

 Phone: (+43-1) 26060 4951
Fax: (+43-1) 26060 5830

or

OOSA@unvienna.org

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