Since 1988 the United Nations, through its Programme on Space Applications, has supported the establishment of Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education, affiliated to the United Nations, in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Asia. In setting up the Centres it was noted that education between nations and even between institutions within the same country varied significantly, which consequently resulted in considerable differences in space science and technology education curricula in terms of content and modes of presentation. [i] [ii]
To ensure an acceptable common standard of teaching, regional centres education curricula have been developed in the four core disciplines taught at the Centres:
To complement the above core disciplines, educational curricula in Space Law and Global Navigation Satellite Systems have recently been developed. In addition to the regional centres, other academic institutions also use the curricula, which are available in English, French and Spanish languages.
Similarly, under the Basic Space Technology Initiative (BSTI) of the Programme on Space Applications, the Office for Outer Space Affairs intends to develop an Education Curriculum on Space Engineering (ECSE).
The ECSE shall include a model syllabus and suggested teaching materials for a postgraduate-level course in space technology development, covering such disciplines as systems engineering, mission design, project management, satellite bus and subsystems as well as relevant legal issues. Completion of the course should enable successful graduates to work in any field related to space technology development.
Postgraduate courses offered at the Regional Centres have a duration of 9 months, sometimes followed by a 1-year pilot project. The ECSE, in-line with previous education curricula, will be tailored to these requirements and will provide suggestions for the pilot project phase, including such activities as nano-satellite development.
The ECSE will be developed with the help of an International Panel of Experts (IPE) in space engineering education convened by the Office for Outer Space Affairs. A focus of the ECSE will be on nano-satellite missions that provide affordable opportunities for space technology development.
The first meeting of the IPE will be convened at the United Nations/Japan Nano-Satellite Symposium, held in Nagoya, Japan, from 10 to 13 October 2012. Further meetings will be held during the United BSTI Symposiums in 2013 and 2014. Between those meetings work will be conducted through online meetings and by email and other electronic tools.
Through its BSTI activities the Office for Outer Space Affairs has already collected information about a wide range of teaching resources that could be incorporated into the ECSE. It is planned that an email-based survey/request for information, sent to space technology experts in educational institutions around the world, will help with identifying other existing space engineering syllabi and teaching materials.
The ECSE shall be finalized in time for its submission as an official United Nations document to the 54 th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) in February 2017.
Development of the ECSE is anticipated to proceed in accordance with the following schedule:
|Sep 2012||ECSE development kick-off: dissemination of Request for Expression of Interest to Contribute to the Development of the ECSE|
|13 Oct 2012||First meeting of the IPE at the United Nations/Japan Nano-Satellite Symposium in Nagoya, Japan.|
|Nov 2012||Initial draft of the ECSE|
|Dec 2012 - Sep 2013||Inter-sessional work|
|Oct 2013||Second meeting of the IPE at the United Nations/United Arab Emirates Basic Space Technology Symposium|
|Nov 2013||Revised draft of the ECSE|
|Dec 2013 - Sep- 2014||Inter-sessional work|
|Oct 2014||Third meeting of the IPE at the United Nations/Mexico Basic Space Technology Symposium|
|TBD||Finalisation of ECSE|
|Feb 2017||Presentation of ECSE to the 54 th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS)|