The United Nations will be launching its first ever space space mission in 2021. The announcement was made yesterday at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. The aim of this mission is to provide developing nations that lack the appropriate capabilities and infrastructure, with the ability to send their experiments to space.
UN’s mission will form part of the payload being taken to space by Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser space plane. The Sierra Nevada space plane is slated to take flight in 2021.
As per the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), it is currently accepting proposals for getting a seat on the mission. The proposals may range form anything
from developing materials that resist corrosion in space to studying climate change and food security.
Considering that the mission is meant specifically to provide developing nations with a chance to send payloads to space, they will be given preference first. Technically speaking though, any of UN member states are eligible to apply. Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser, which will be taking these payloads to space, is the only spacecraft that is capable of making a soft landing on most large airports.
The spacecraft has been recently selected to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal services for the International Space Station by NASA’s under its bid to privatize resupply to the ISS and break the Russian monopoly.
Speaking on the topic, Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA said,
One of UNOOSA’s core responsibilities is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space.
I am proud to say that one of the ways UNOOSA will achieve this, in cooperation with our partner Sierra Nevada Corporation, is by dedicating an entire microgravity mission to United Nations Member States, many of which do not have the infrastructure or financial backing to have a standalone space programme.
The mission will enable UN member states to send their projects abroad SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft which will perform a 14-day flight to low-Earth orbit (LEO). UNOOSA will also be offering technical support to countries that lack the expertise and/or the experience in developing micro-gravity experiments.
As far as the costs of this mission are concerned, Countries selected to provide mission payloads will be asked to pay a pro-rated portion of the mission cost,. The cost will vary and will be decided based upon the resources required to host the payload and also their ability to pay. UNOOSA is also looking for major sponsors to participate in the programme and shoulder some of the expenses.