Press Briefing to provide an overview of the 42nd Session of the Scientific & Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
UNIS Vienna today organized a press briefing to provide an overview of the 42nd session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, being held in Vienna from 21 February to 4 March 2005. Sergio Camacho-Lara, Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), Lee Morin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Space, and Science at the United States Department of State and US Astronaut, and Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, Current Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and Romania's first Cosmonaut, addressed the media. The briefing was chaired by Christian Strohmann, Deputy to the Director, UNIS Vienna.
Mr. Prunariu opened the briefing by providing an overview of the subjects that are currently being discussed by the Subcommittee. These include space-based disaster management support, space-based telemedicine, the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, measures for reducing space debris created by space missions, as well as near-Earth objects, which include celestial objects such as asteroids and meteors, that may pass the Earth's orbit. He also said that the Subcommittee is discussing the proposed International Geophysical and Heliophysical Year in 2007.
Mr. Morin then took the floor and presented an outline of the National Space Policy of the United States. He briefly described the various space missions that are currently being planned by the National Areonautics and Space Administration (NASA). He also mentioned the possibility of a robotic mission to bring the Hubble space telescope back to Earth.
Mr. Camacho-Lara specifically addressed the topic of space-based disaster management support and focussed on how space technology and its applications can be used in preventing or managing natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. He highlighted OOSA's involvement with the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters", through which seven space agencies provide real-time space data acquisition and delivery, through authorized users, to those responding to major natural or man-made disasters. He pointed out that OOSA's status with the International Charter had enabled the UN system to request data through the Charter in response to emergency situations
This was followed by a lively Q&A session. In response to a question on cooperation between the US and the European Union, Mr. Morin said that NASA was working only in the area of peaceful uses of outer space. He said that cooperation with the EU and Russia was excellent. Mr. Prunariu added that the fact that the US and Russia had agreed to share common data reaffirmed their cooperation.
In response to a question on the role that OOSA played during the recent tsunami disaster, Mr. Camacho-Lara said that OOSA had triggered the Charter for Indonesia and Thailand. The images had then been given to the World Food Programme and other agencies responding to the disaster.
About 30 persons representing permanent missions, media (AFP, AP, Reuters, Kyodo News, EFE, ORF TV) and non-governmental organizations attended the briefing.