For information only - not an official document

21 February 2014

Scientific and Technical Subcommittee concludes its 51st session in Vienna, advances discussion on the long-term sustainability of outer space activities

VIENNA, 21 February (UN Information Service) - "The long-term sustainability of outer space activities is of critical importance in addressing topics on sustainable space utilization to support sustainable development on Earth" said Elöd Both of Hungary upon his election as Chair of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee for a two-year term. He highlighted the important issues that Members had discussed during the session on long-term sustainability and its relation to "space debris, space operations, tools to support collaborative space situational awareness, space weather, and regulatory regimes, including guidance for actors in the space arena".

Long-term sustainability of outer space activities was one of the key items on the agenda of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, which concluded its 51st session in Vienna today. The Working Group meeting under this topic continued its work towards developing a set of guidelines aimed to improve the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

Other highlights of the 51st session of the Subcommittee include:

  • Endorsement of the report from the Action Team on Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) such as asteroids and comets, which summarized the first meetings held by the UN-endorsed International Asteroid Warning Network and the Space Planning Mission Advisory Group. These groups have started their work towards identifying NEO threats and on determining the options for initiating and executing space mission response activities to NEO threats to our planet.
  • A multi-year plan of work was instituted to promote the recognition of space tools and geospatial data infrastructures in meeting the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference and towards the post-2015 development agenda. In that regard, global health was selected as a special area of focus for further deliberations.
  • The benefit of space-based activities for health was a key item in events held on the margins of the Subcommittee. On 19 and 20 February, the Office for Outer Space Affairs, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), convened an Expert Meeting on International Space Station Benefits for Health. Participating experts put their joint efforts on compiling information on health technologies and applications developed in the ISS programme, and linked them to the WHO global health priorities.
  • Delegates also attended a symposium which covered all aspects of commercial applications of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and discussed a wide range of benefits that GNSS can bring to society. The number of satellites available will continue to increase greatly, thus increasing the levels of accuracy and reliability, making possible a new range of more beneficial and commercially profitable products and services.
  • The Subcommittee heard technical presentations made by Member States on a diverse and fascinating range of topics, including on the Chelyabinsk incident and the efforts towards mitigation of  space debris.

Other key items for discussion by the Subcommittee included space debris mitigation, disaster management and space weather research. In the two week session, the Subcommittee also reviewed the status of implementation of the safety framework for nuclear power source applications in outer space, the use of the geostationary orbit, and matters related to remote sensing of the Earth by satellites, including applications for developing countries.

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For further information, please contact:

Sinead  Harvey 
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) 
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-8718 
Email: sinead.harvey[at]

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