55th annual meeting of COPUOS in session

The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is in session for the 55th time in Vienna, Austria. The session was opened on 6 June, electing Yasushi Horikawa from Japan as Chair, Filipe Duarte Santos from Portugal as Vice-Chair and Piotr Wolanski from Poland as Second Vice-Chair.The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 (resolution 1472 (XIV)) to review the scope of international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters, and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. UN-SPIDER was created on recommendation of COPUOS in 2006.

The 55th session will continue discussions on ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, as well as on a variety of topics including spin-offs of space technology, space and society, space and water, space and climate change, and the use of space technology in the United Nations system. The session will also address the reports of the Legal and Scientific and Technical Sub-Committees of COPUOS.

Additionally, a special panel discussion was held to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Landsat - the first Earth-observation satellite mission, providing many countries with remote sensing data since 1972, on 6 June. A dedicated exhibit on Landsat and the worldwide evolution of remote sensing is taking place for the entire duration of COPUOS in the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre (VIC). On 8 June, the BeiDou/COMPASS model, a Chinese navigation satellite model was donated to the Exhibit of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). The four Expert Groups of the Working Group on the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities will meet on the margins of this Committee session. The Action Team on Near-Earth Objects met on 11 and 12 June.