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09UNVIEVIENNA103 2009-03-13 15:34:00 UNCLASSIFIED UNVIE
Cable title:  

COPOUS: WRAP-UP OF THE 46TH SESSION OF THE SCIENTIFIC AND

Tags:   TSPA UNGA UNPUOS 
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					  UNCLAS UNVIE VIENNA 000103 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TSPA UNGA UNPUOS
SUBJECT: COPOUS: WRAP-UP OF THE 46TH SESSION OF THE SCIENTIFIC AND
TECHNICAL SUBCOMMITTEE (STSC), FEBRUARY 9-20, 2009

REF: A. STATE 1917
-------
SUMMARY
-------


1. (U) The U.S. accomplished its objectives for the 46th session of

the STSC in Vienna February 9-20, 2009, including STSC approval of
the voluntary safety framework for the use of nuclear power sources
in outer space and adoption of a new agenda item on space weather
research. The U.S. delegation also had an opportunity to inform the
STSC about the February 10 collision of the non-functioning Russian
Cosmos satellite with the Iridium commercial satellite and the
impact of that event on the space debris environment. The U.S.
provided statements on nine agenda items, five technical
presentations for the Subcommittee plenary sessions, and
participated in two formal working groups. The chairman of the
Subcommittee for the second and final year of his term was Mr.
Aboubekr-Seddik Kedjar of Algeria. End summary.


--------------------------


U.S. Statements and
Special Presentations


--------------------------




2. (U) Ref A contains a summary of this session's key agenda items

and guidance for the U.S. delegation. The U.S. delivered prepared
statements on the following topics: General Exchange of Views, UN
Space Applications Program and Implementation of Unispace III
Recommendations (combined), Remote Sensing, Space Debris, Use of
Nuclear Power Sources (NPS) in Outer Space, Space-based Systems for

Disaster Management, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS),
Near Earth Objects (NEOs), and International Heliophysical Year
(IHY) 2007.


3. (U) As a result of the February 10, 2009, collision in low Earth
orbit between Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251, the U.S. delegation gave a
short statement on the event on February 12 based on guidance
provided by Washington. During the second week of the session, a
U.S. technical representative from NASA provided some details on the
space debris created by this event during his regular annual
presentation on the state of the space debris environment (again
using information cleared in Washington). Citing the collision, the
Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNCOPUOS
Secretariat) released a statement to the press reiterating the call
by UNCOPUOS and international organizations to voluntarily take
measures to ensure that space debris mitigation guidelines are fully
implemented. During plenary discussions, France, Canada, and the
Czech Republic cited the collision as a reminder of the need to
examine means through which risks to current space activities can be
reduced or minimized. While a number of Member States commented on
the collision, the only question came from Belgium, which asked
about U.S. plans to share the results of any investigations of the
incident with the broader international community. The U.S.
delegation made no commitments in this regard during the plenary.
In side discussions with Belgium, the UK, Canada, France and
Germany, members of the U.S. delegation did note that USSTRATCOM was
planning to conduct a "lessons learned" assessment of the collision.
All expressed interest in hearing the results of the assessment.
France, the Czech Republic (current President of the EU Council),
and several NGOs attending the session cited the satellite collision
as a reminder of the value of moving forward on the EU-proposed
"Code of Conduct for Space Activities."


4. (U) This year, the United States provided five technical
presentations during the STSC. The Phoenix Program Manager from
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) gave a presentation on the
recent Phoenix mission to the polar region of Mars. Other
delegations were particularly impressed with this presentation,
which was accompanied by exceptional still pictures and a short film
taken in the mission's control center at JPL during the landing on
Mars. A NASA representative gave a presentation on current Near
Earth Object research activities of the United States government.
As noted above, a representative from NASA's Johnson Space Center
gave a
presentation on the space debris environment and a NASA






representative from the Goddard Space Flight Center gave a
presentation on the wrap-up of the International Heliophysical Year
2007 research campaign. The Federal Aviation Administration's
Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation briefed
the STSC plenary on the FAA's efforts and activities related to
regulating commercial human space flight activities in the U.S.


--------------------------


Member States


--------------------------




5. (U) Fifty-four of the sixty-nine UNCOPUOS member states were
represented at the 46th STSC session.


--------------------------


Observers


--------------------------




6. (U) Nations requesting to attend this STSC session in an
observer
status included: Angola, Azerbaijan, Croatia, the Dominican
Republic, Israel, and Tunisia. Other UN organizations present as
observers included the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Many other
space-related organizations attended as observers, including the
Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the European Space Agency
(ESA), the European Southern Observatory, the European Space Policy
Institute (ESPI), the
International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the International
Space University (ISU), the International Astronomical Union (IAU),
the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), the Space
Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), and the Secure World Foundation
(SWF).


--------------------------


General Exchange of Views


--------------------------




7. (U) In addition to the U.S., the following member nations made
statements under this agenda item: Algeria, Austria, Argentina,
Bolivia (on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean
States), Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Czech Republic (on
behalf of the European Union), France, Germany, India, Indonesia,
Iran, Italy, Japan, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan,
Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, the Russian
Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Syria,
Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. All of these nations highlighted
their significant national space activities or developments in 2008.
A number of these statements addressed the importance of space
debris mitigation and expressed satisfaction with the UNGA
endorsement of space debris mitigation guidelines at its 2007
session. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian
Federation, Spain, and the Ukraine commented favorably on space
cooperation with the United States. The Russian Federation focused
almost exclusively on its efforts (with China) to promote a treaty
on space weapons in the Conference on Disarmament. China, however,
did not mention this subject in its statement. France focused its
statement primarily on the EU Code of Conduct for Space Activities,
but indicated that the EU did not intend to pursue agreement on the
EU Code of Conduct in either UNCOPUOS or the Conference on
Disarmament, but rather to do so via an ad hoc conference at some
point in the future. India expressed its desire to develop a human
spaceflight capability. Iran cited the importance of the 1967 Outer
Space Treaty, the need to use space applications for sustainable
development, and highlighted the recent indigenous launch of its
telecommunications satellite. The U.S. statement highlighted 2008
achievements including progress on the U.S. Space Exploration
Policy; Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station;
space science missions including the Hubble Space Telescope, the
Mars rovers, Phoenix, and the New Horizons mission to Pluto; NASA
and NOAA remote sensing Earth observation satellites, and USGS
management of Landsat missions and resultant worldwide data
distribution.








--------------------------


UN Program on Space Applications


--------------------------




8. (U) In addition to the U.S, Greece, India, Japan, and the
Russian Federation made statements under this agenda item. The U.S.
commended the UN Space Applications Program and highlighted its role
in establishing action teams to report on implementation of the 1999
Unispace III recommendations. U.S. noted its financial and in-kind
support for workshops and other activities that led to the
establishment of the International Committee on Global Navigation
Satellite Systems (ICG). The OOSA Secretariat reported on workshops
and seminars held under the auspices of the UN Space Applications
Program in 2008 and described plans for continuing such activities
in 2009.


--------------------------


Remote Sensing and Applications
for Developing Countries


--------------------------




9. (U) In addition to the U.S., representatives of Brazil, Canada,
China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, and South Africa made
statements on this agenda item. The U.S. highlighted national
accomplishments and advances in the field of remote sensing achieved
by NASA, NOAA, and the USGS. The U.S. and others highlighted the
ongoing activities of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) in its
efforts to establish a Global Earth Observation System of Systems
(GEOSS). The GEO Secretariat provided a statement on the GEO
10-year implementation plan to provide long-lasting benefits to the
world through coordination of current and future investments for in
situ, airborne, and space-based earth observations.


--------------------------


The Use of Nuclear Power
Sources (NPS) in Space


--------------------------




10. (U) In addition to the U.S., representatives of Nigeria,
South Africa, and Venezuela made formal statements in the plenary
regarding NPS. The U.S. expressed support for the current work of
the NPS Working Group and the STSC/IAEA Joint Expert Group, and
stressed the value of the voluntary safety framework for the use of
nuclear power sources in outer space that was being developed by
these groups. The Venezuelans expressed their concern that the
draft safety framework does not go far enough, that it should
absolutely ban the use of reactors in Earth orbit, and called for
the establishment of a legal regime to control the use of nuclear
power sources in space. Working with other delegations, the U.S.
crafted text for the NPS Working Group report that acknowledged
Venezuela's concern about the use of nuclear power sources in Earth
orbit, but kept any such prohibition out of the draft safety
framework itself. Accordingly, the STSC approved the draft safety
framework with no significant changes from the draft previously
cleared by U.S. agencies. In accordance with the established work
plan, the safety framework will be provided to the IAEA for review
in April 2009 by its Commission on Safety Standards, with the
objective of having it cleared by the IAEA and ready for endorsement
by UNCOPUOS at its plenary session in June 2009. The STSC also
agreed to have its NPS Working Group hold an intersessional meeting
in June 2009 (on the margins of the UNCOPUOS session) to consider
possible next steps for future work on this agenda item for
potential STSC consideration in 2010.


--------------------------


Space Debris


--------------------------




11. (U) In addition to the U.S., representatives of Brazil, Canada,

China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, India,
Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, and Venezuela made
statements on
space debris. Many of these delegations expressed the importance of






implementing the UNCOPUOS Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines through
relevant national mechanisms, particularly citing the February 10
satellite collision. The U.S. expressed its satisfaction with the
2007
UNGA endorsement of COPUOS space debris mitigation guidelines and
urged national reporting on the implementation of those guidelines
by member states. The Czech Republic reiterated its view that the
LSC should take up the subject of space debris mitigation, to
include consideration of a legal regime to enforce space debris
mitigation.


--------------------------


Space-system-based Disaster
Management Support


--------------------------




12. (U) In addition to the U.S., representatives of Austria,
Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan,
Nigeria, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United
Kingdom made statements on this agenda item. Most of these
delegations expressed support for the recently created United
Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management
and Emergency Response (UNSPIDER). The U.S. delegation highlighted
several of its programs which involved close cooperation with
international partners to provide a wide array of space-based,
airborne, and in-situ data and products to diverse communities
worldwide. It made clear that U.S. agencies would continue to
support UNSPIDER through the provision of data products, but would
also continue to look carefully at the UNSPIDER work plan to ensure
that it was being implemented in an efficient and effective manner.




--------------------------


Near Earth Objects


--------------------------




13. (U) In addition to the U.S., representatives of Austria,
Canada, France, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Romania, and the Russian
Federation made statements on this agenda item. The STSC is
considering Near Earth Objects (NEOs) under a three-year work plan
-- initially proposed by the UK -- at the 45th session in 2008. The
work plan covers activities for the period 2009-2011. The
Subcommittee reconvened its Working Group on NEOs at this session to
review intersessional work and reports
submitted by member states in response to the Secretariat's annual
call for information on NEOs. The Working Group also considered
presentations on national, regional, and international collaborative

activities related to detection and characterization of NEOs; and it

reviewed the interim report of the Action Team on Near-Earth Objects

which has been working in this area since the Unispace III
conference in 1999. During discussions in the Working Group, the
U.S. delegation pointed out the importance of broadening the
international effort to detect and characterize NEOs. The current
work plan calls for consideration of international procedures for
handling potential NEO threats to the Earth. In this regard, the
NEO Working Group heard a presentation from the Association of Space
Explorers on its recent report titled "Asteroid Threats: A Call for
Global Response." The Working Group will consider this report over
the next year as it begins to draft international procedures to
address NEO threats.


14. (U) Comment: It does not appear that any member states have
developed policies specifically addressing NEO threats, nor has any
member state proposed the establishment of an international
decision-making body to address such threats. However, the ASE
report cited in paragraph 13 above recommends the establishment of
UN bodies to oversee NEO threat detection, warning, response
planning, and decision-making with respect to NEO impact threat






situations, and Member States will be called upon to address such
proposals at the next session of the STSC in February 2010. End
comment.


--------------------------


Global Navigation Satellite
Systems (GNSS)


--------------------------




15. (U) This topic was begun at the February 2008 session as a new
regular agenda item and addresses issues related to international
collaboration among various national satellite navigation systems.
In addition to the U.S., representatives of Canada, China, India,
Italy, Japan, Mexico and the Russian Federation made statements
under this agenda item. A recurrent theme in these statements was
support for the principles of compatibility and interoperability of
GNSS. Concurrently with this session, interested member states and
observers met to coordinate activities in support of the
International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems
(ICG). The third meeting of the ICG, which is an outgrowth of a
Unispace III recommendation, was held in Pasadena, California, in
December 2008, and the fourth meeting is planned for St. Petersburg,
Russia, in September 2009. UNOOSA serves as the Executive
Secretariat for the ICG and its smaller panel called
the Providers Forum. The chairman of the ICG has been invited to
advise the Subcommittee each year on its current and future
activities. The U.S. has contributed approximately $1 million over

the past several years to UNOOSA in support of GNSS-related
activities, including regional workshops, the ICG, and the Providers

Forum. Our objective is to ensure that GPS continues to be the
central pillar in the emerging international global navigation
satellite system.


--------------------------


International Heliophysical
Year (IHY) 2007


--------------------------




16. (U) The U.S. statement and presentation highlighted IHY
activities that had taken place during the 2007-2009 period,
including the worldwide participation and distribution of instrument
arrays. The U.S. played a leading role in IHY 2007 implementation,
data collection and dissemination. The role of the STSC with
respect to IHY 2007 has
been to serve as a major advocate for the campaign and to facilitate

the addition of nations to the IHY effort. This is the final year
for the consideration of this agenda item as the IHY 2007 campaign
was officially closed during this STSC session. In view of the fact
that heliophysical research can continue to provide valuable and
useful information regarding the impact of space weather on our
space infrastructure and on the Earth's climate, the U.S. delegation
proposed a new agenda topic and multi-year work plan on an
international space weather initiative. The proposal was endorsed
by a number of other countries which had been active in the IHY 2007
campaign, and consensus was achieved to add this topic, with its
accompanying work plan, to the STSC agenda commencing in 2010. In
addition to the U.S., representatives of Canada, China, Japan, and
Nigeria made statements on this agenda item. NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Center, in coordination with OOSA, provided an exhibit on IHY
2007 accomplishments which was on display in the Vienna
International Centre during the second week of the STSC session.


--------------------------


Long Term Sustainability of
Space Activities


--------------------------




17. (U) This subject was one of the areas included in former COPUOS

Chairman Gerard Brachet's recommendations for future work of the






Committee and its Subcommittees, presented in a working paper at the

50th session of the Committee in June 2007. France, following up on

Brachet's recommendation, has been hosting informal consultations
involving interested UNCOPUOS Member States, nongovernmental
organizations, relevant international organizations, and several
commercial space operators, to develop a document on best practices
for space operations that could serve as a basis for future work in
the STSC. A drafting group supporting these informal consultations
met on the margins of the STSC to continue its work to develop this
document for consideration by the informal consultations. While
progress was made in the drafting group, the document is not yet
complete, and has only recently incorporated some actual proposals
for "best practices." France, at this session, proposed that "The
Long Term Sustainability of Space Activities" be adopted as a new
agenda topic for the STSC at its 47th session in February 2010. The
proposal included a work plan for the period 2010-2012, which would
culminate in the finalization of a document on "Best Practices for
Space Operations." As the informal consultations have not yet been
completed, and are currently seeking to inform the full UNCOPUOS at
its 52nd session in June 2009, the U.S. delegation, during informal
discussions, strongly encouraged the French delegation to wait until
June 2009 to make its proposal, pending the results of the informal
consultations. However, France persisted and ran into widespread
opposition to its proposal from many countries that have not been
involved directly in the informal consultations. These Member
States stated that, in the absence of any document from the informal
consultations, they had nothing to work with their respective
capitals and it was premature to push for adoption of the new agenda
item. Member States which took this position included Argentina,
Austria, China, Colombia, Greece, Iran, Mexico, and South Africa.
There also was strong sentiment not to pre-judge the outcome of
consideration of this proposal by the full Committee in June 2009.
In the end there was no consensus on the French proposal, and France
plans to reintroduce the proposal at the full Committee session in
June 2009.


18. (U) Comment: The U.S. has been an active participant in the
informal consultations since they commenced in February of 2008. We
have agreed in principle to UNCOPUOS work along these lines pending
the outcome of the consultations. France's attempt to push through
an agenda item for the STSC prior to completion of the informal
consultations, and prior to engagement of other UNCOPUOS Member
States which have not been a part of the informal consultations,
could serve to stiffen opposition to the new agenda item when it is
considered again in June at the full Committee session. Even though
the February 10 collision of the Iridium and Cosmos satellites
spurred several Member States to comment on the need to pursue
common operational measures to reduce such risks in space, there now
appears to be significant work to be achieved by France before June
to accommodate a number of countries who have not been involved or
engaged in the informal consultations. End Comment.


--------------------------


Symposia at the STSC


--------------------------




19. (U) This year, during the second day of the session, a
symposium organized by the International Astronautical Federation
was held on the theme "The role of Earth observation satellites in
promoting understanding of and addressing climate change concerns."
A representative from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
participated as a panelist in this symposium. The symposium,
moderated by Gerard Brachet of France, the former Chairman of
UNCOPUOS, consisted of two round tables. The first discussed space
systems that monitored climate change, and the second addressed the
contributions of these systems to understanding and forecasting
climate behavior. The Subcommittee agreed that the theme for the
industry symposium for the 47th session in 2009, to be organized by






OOSA, would be "Nurturing the Development of Space Technology."


--------------------------


Provisional Agenda for the
47th Session of STSC in 2010


--------------------------




20. (U) For its session in 2010, the STSC will consider the
following as regular agenda items: General Exchange of Views;
Space Applications and Follow-up to Unispace III; Remote Sensing of
the Earth; Space Debris; Space-system-based Disaster Management
Support; and
Recent Developments in Global Navigation Satellite Systems. Items
to be considered under multi-year work plans will include the Use of

Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space, Near Earth Objects, and Space
Weather. One single-issue topic will be considered as well in 2010:
Examination of the physical nature and technical attributes of the
geostationary orbit and its utilization and applications, including
in the field of space communications, taking particular account of
the needs and interests of developing countries.

SCHULTE