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United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is a part of the United Nations Secretariat, located at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. It is tasked with implementing the decisions of the United Nations General Assembly and of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.[citation needed]

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Emblem of the United Nations.svg
Austria august2010 0073.jpg
United Nations Office at Vienna,
location of UNOOSA since 1993
(56 years ago)
TypeOffice of the Secretariat
Legal statusActive
Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs



On 13 December 1958 (59 years ago) (1958-12-13), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) was initially created as a small expert unit within the United Nations Secretariat in New York to assist the ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space established by the General Assembly in its resolution 1348 (XIII).[1]

In 1962, the unit became positioned within the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs (DPSCA), when the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space met for the first time.[citation needed]

In 1968, the unit was transformed into the Outer Space Affairs Division of DPSCA.[citation needed]

In 1992, the Division was transformed into the Office for Outer Space Affairs within the Department for Political Affairs, relocating to the United Nations Office at Vienna the following year, in 1993.[citation needed]

In 2005, the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) was established under the umbrella of the United Nations.[2]

In 2006, the UN-SPIDER programme was established to "provide universal access to all countries and all relevant international and regional organizations to all types of space-based information and services relevant to disaster management to support the full disaster management cycle".[3][4]

In 2009, Takao Doi became Chief of Space Applications.[citation needed]

In 2010, the Human Space Initiative was launched.[5]

In March 2014, the Secretary-General appointed Simonetta Di Pippo (Italy) as the new Director of the Office, having previously served as the Director of Human Spaceflight at the European Space Agency.[citation needed]

In September 2016, UNOOSA announced the first-ever United Nations space mission, partnering with the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). Using the SNC Dream Chaser spaceplane, UNOOSA will enable developing nations to send microgravity payloads into low-Earth orbit, with a target launch in 2021.[6][7]


The Office implements the decisions of the United Nations General Assembly and of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The office has the dual objective of supporting the intergovernmental discussions in the Committee and its Scientific and Technical Subcommittee[8] and Legal Subcommittee,[9] and of assisting developing countries in using space technology for development.[citation needed]

The mandate has been adjusted a number of times to allow the Office to undertake, among other tasks, the coordination of the inter-agency cooperation within the United Nations on the use of space technology - UN-Space[10] (resolution 3234 (XXIX)),[11] implementing the United Nations Programme on Space Applications[12] (resolution 2601A (XXIV))[13] and the UN-SPIDER[3] Programme for disaster risk management and emergency response (resolution 61/110).[14]

The Office also coordinates and cooperates with space agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations involved in space-related activities and, on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, the Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space. The office also helps poor nations suffering from climate change related problems by helping them access satellite images for free.[citation needed]


The Office is composed of the Committee, Policy, and Legal Affairs (CPLA) section, headed by Niklas Hedman, and the Space Applications Section (SAS), headed by Luc St- Pierre. These are coordinated by the Office of the Director managed by Simonetta Di Pippo.[citation needed]

The Committee, Policy, and Legal Affairs Section provides substantive secretariat services to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, its Subcommittees, and working groups, as well as contributing to the implementation of the recommendations of UN global conferences. The section further convenes and services the Inter Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities – UN-Space,[10] which is the central inter-agency coordination mechanisms in the UN system on overarching space matters, and which meets annually to discuss current and future activities, emergent technologies of interest, and other related matters, in particular in relation to the global development agenda.[citation needed]

Furthermore, the section is concerned with the establishment of a legal and regulatory framework governing space activities, and the office is actively fostering capacity-building in the area of space law and policy. In order to keep track of all objects in earth orbit, the office manages a searchable online register of objects launched into outer space, mandated under the Registration Convention.[citation needed]

The Space Applications Section works on building capacities in the practical application of space technology and space-derived information for development. The Programme concentrates its efforts on ensuring the equal access of all countries to new space-based technologies, especially developing nations. To facilitate the capacity building with focus on developing countries, the office provides three initiatives:[citation needed]

  • The Human Space Initiative focuses on the public outreach to promote increased awareness among Member States to the benefits of space technology and its applications.[5]
  • The Basic Space Technology Initiative enhances access to space application tools for sustainable development through building capacity in basic space technology.[15]
  • The Basic Space Science Initiative supports the growth of small research groups in universities and research institutions in the developing countries in the fields of astronomy and space science.[16]

The Programme also focuses efforts on the potential of space-based information for disaster management and emergency response. The UN-SPIDER programme (established 2006) helps to achieve this objective by being a gateway to space information for disaster management support, serving as a bridge to connect the disaster management and space communities and being a facilitator of capacity-building and institutional strengthening, in particular for developing countries.[3][4]

The International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) promotes voluntary cooperation on matters of mutual interest related to civil satellite-based positioning, navigation, timing, and value-added services. To support the work of ICG, the Office was designated as the Executive Secretariat of ICG. In that capacity, UNOOSA is organizing regional workshops, training courses, and international meetings focusing on capacity-building in the use of GNSS-related technologies in various rapidly growing fields of science and industry.[2]


Citizens of more than 50 countries have served as staff members, consultants, and interns.[citation needed]

Staff members of the Office have a wide range of educational backgrounds, including space science (including interdisciplinary fields), physics, engineering, computer science, political science, international affairs, and law (including public international law and space law).[citation needed]

Before Simonetta Di Pippo became Director of the Office (2014), she was Director of Human Spaceflight at the European Space Agency. Mr. Niklas Hedman serves as Chief of the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section Mr Luc St-Pierre as Chief of the Space Applications Section.[citation needed]

At different times, a number of other distinguished people, including Adigun Ade Abiodun, Vladimír Kopal, Mazlan Binti Othman, Luboš Perek, Nandasiri Jasentuliyana, and Takao Doi served at various positions.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  2. ^ a b "International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG)".
  3. ^ a b c "UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal".
  4. ^ a b General Assembly resolution 61/110 Archived 2015-07-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b "Human Space Technology Initiative (HSTI)".
  6. ^ Williams, Weston (2016-09-29). "Why the United Nations is launching a space mission". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  7. ^ "The United Nations and Sierra Nevada Corporation Announce First Ever Dedicated United Nations―Dream Chaser Space Mission". UNOOSA. 2016-09-27. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  8. ^ "STSC 2015".
  9. ^ "LSC 2015".
  10. ^ a b "United Nations Coordination of Outer Space Activities".
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  12. ^ "UN Programme on Space Applications".
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  15. ^ "BSTI".
  16. ^ "BSSI".


External linksEdit