Skip to comments.UN's "outer space people" tackle asteroids, climate (the Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA))
Posted on 07/14/2009 3:32:25 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
VIENNA (AFP) They call them the "people in outer space". But besides stopping extra-terrestrial arms races, this tiny UN office has very down-to-earth goals: to help poor countries develop crops and help manage natural disasters.
Overshadowed by its larger UN siblings -- like the World Health Organisation, the nuclear watchdog IAEA or the refugee agency UNHCR -- the Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and its 27 employees sit almost forgotten in the vast hallways of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna.
"If we do make contact with aliens, who do you think should be representing mankind?" jokes UNOOSA director Mazlan Othman.
"It would be the secretary general of the United Nations... that's why we're here," adds the cheerful Malaysian astrophysicist.
The launch of the first satellite, Russia's Sputnik, in 1957 at the height of the Cold War prompted fears of an arms race in space. This led to the establishment of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, made of member states, and a small unit that would later evolve into the Office for Outer Space Affairs.
Five major treaties and agreements were drawn up in the following decades, regulating members' activities in space and advocating equal rights and access for all states.
But despite its origins, the UN office is keen to emphasize the peaceful aspect of its work, setting up programmes to help poor countries gain access to space technology for developmental and aid purposes.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Not to be confused with the Unified Regulatory Agency for the Non-competitive Use of Space.
(There are many bureaucrats believed to head up URANUS...)