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Space & Society

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UN Trip Summary
October 14 , 2010

Olga Zhakova, American Studies Graduate Student

Space & Society: Bringing the Benefits of Space Technology to Earth


The second UN briefing in this season was called “Space and Society: Bringing the Benefits of Space Technology to Earth” and took place within the World Space Week (4-10 October). The first speaker, Mr. Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu (Romania), being a Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, described the Committee’s work which is based on its main goal: to support and encourage the application of space technologies for peaceful purposes. Space technologies, peacefully used in absolutely different spheres, such as education, meteorology, entertainment, disaster management, etc., have brought dramatic positive changes to the lives of all people on Earth. As Mr. Prunariu mentioned, exploring the outer space we find more about ourselves and make our life on Earth better.

The second spokeswoman was Ms. Mazlan Othman (Malaysia) – the Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. The objective of the Office is to promote international cooperation in the use of outer space and the main task is to implement the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. In order to enhancing the peaceful use of space technologies, the Office also helps developing countries in using space technology for economic development. To illustrate the benefits of space exploration to people on Earth, Ms. Othman mentioned Emergency Aid/Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System which helps those who get lost in mountains or sea.

Mr. Kenneth Hodgkins (USA), Director for the Office of Space and Advanced Technology in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, spoke third, approaching the issue of bringing space technology to Earth from an international perspective. The Office of Space and Advanced Technology is aimed at promoting international cooperation of countries and transparency in their actions. Since almost every country in the world has investment in space, the work of the Office has a crucial importance to the exploration of space and its implications. Its main principle is that benefits of space activities must be shared by all people and access to the space must be provided to everyone. With the increasing number of actors in space (nowadays around 60 countries have space programs), it is crucially important to sustain a safe space environment – an issue that has been actively discussed in the Office recently.

The last speaker was Ms. Amanda Moore (USA), the United Nations Representative for the National Space Society. Addressing the NGO representatives, Ms. Moore said: “No matter what your vision and mission is, there is a space application for you, and we are here to help you find it”. A significant part of the presentation consisted of the excerpts from Marc Carreau article “Why space matters” from the Society’s Ad Astra magazine, indicating all the benefits that outer space exploration and technologies bring to Earth.

In whole, the main question that went through the entire briefing was: Why does space matter? All of the speakers gave the same answer to this question: because space is about us and the future. By exploring the space we learn more about ourselves. As Mr. Prunariu mentioned, the recent studies of Mars showed that there used to be a massive amount of water on the planet, which means that the existence of life was possible. Further studies on Mars can help us to understand the future of our planet. Moreover, learning about the outer space might not only help us to improve life on Earth, but to unite all the people sharing one home – our planet. As the retired Romanian astronaut Mr. Prunariu said about his experience in the outer space, “You see the Earth as a unique entity, as a home for all of us”.  

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