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UNIS/OS/408
31 May 2011

Space Days at the United Nations: Astronauts, Moon Rock and Space Tours at the Vienna International Centre

VIENNA, 31 May (UN Information Service) - In 2011, the United Nations, the Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the space community are celebrating two remarkable anniversaries: 50 years of human space flight and the 50th anniversary of the first session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS).

"Bringing the benefits of space to Earth is really what UNOOSA and the Committee are all about. We have come a long way in the past 50 years and I believe this is a reason to celebrate," Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, says.

UNOOSA invites the public to celebrate this anniversary: to meet astronauts and cosmonauts, touch a Moon rock or join a Space Tour at the Vienna International Centre (VIC).

A Space Exhibition will be opened to general public from 1 through 30 June 2011 in the Rotunda of the VIC and special Space Tours will guide you through the touchable Moon rock and models of the International Space Station, rocket, satellite and spacecraft models will be among the items on display in this international exhibition, with more than 25 States and organizations displaying national space accomplishments. The public is also invited for the Space Day at the UN. Visitors can take Space tours through the exhibition and can meet astronauts and cosmonauts (Saturday 4 June 2011, 10 a.m. - 4.30 p.m., Rotunda, VIC. Space tours will be offered at 10 a.m., 12 noon and 2 p.m.).

On Thursday 2 June 2011, Astronauts and Cosmonauts will discuss the "Future of Humankind in Space" (7 p.m., Vienna City Hall, Volkshalle). Astronauts and Cosmonauts Aleksei Leonov, Leland Melvin, Chiaki Mukai, Claude Nicollier, Thomas Reiter, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, Liwei Yang, So-yeon Yi and others will take part in a panel discussion to be followed by questions and answers and an autograph session. As space is limited, advance registration is required ( http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/specialevents/2011/index.html).

The United Nations' interest in outer space began shortly after the launch of the first satellite in 1957. Recognizing the vast potential of space technology for overcoming Earth-based problems, the Member States of the United Nations established the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Tasked with developing a legal framework for the conduct of activities in outer space and also facilitating the use of space-based technology, the Committee met for the first time on 27 November 1961, the same year as Yuri Gagarin flew as the first envoy of humankind into outer space. The year after, UNOOSA was formally established as the secretariat to the Committee with its core mission to promote international cooperation in the use of outer space to achieve development goals for the benefit of humankind.

"Space technology has become an indispensable tool for providing solutions for some of the most pressing issues on the global development agenda, such as climate change, disaster management, global health and human security," said Mazlan Othman, Director of UNOOSA.

The United Nations, through the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and UNOOSA, plays a pivotal role in ensuring that countries continue to work together to bring the benefits of space activities to people around the world. Space-based assets such as satellites for telecommunications, global navigation systems and Earth observation technologies enable services that are used around the world on a daily basis.

"Just outside my office, there are three United Nations flags, including one flown to the Moon by the astronauts of Apollo 14 in 1971. To me, they serve as constant reminders of our common humanity…and our global quest to conquer shared challenges," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his video message to the Committee.

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For more information please contact:

Romana Kofler
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4962
Email: romana.kofler[at]unoosa.org

or

Regina Rohrbach
United Nations Information Service (UNIS)
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-3898
Mobile: (+43) 699-1459-3898
Email: regina.rohrbach[at]unvienna.org