The United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) announced the development of its first dedicated space mission, dubbed Dream Chaser, which will allow state members to launch payloads into orbit.

The project will be planned in collaboration with the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). The U.N. will eventually serve as a bridge between developing countries and outer space. The Dream Chaser spacecraft, created by SNC, will be reusable and closely resembles NASA’s space shuttle.

UN/ Sierra Nevada Corporation
Artist concept of Dream Chaser. Image credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

The United Nations in space

The announcement took place on Thursday during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. The aircraft is expected to be fit for landing in airports and landing pads around the world without the intervention of a pilot or an operator. Because it will be reusable, Dream Chaser will allow countries with little resources to take part in space flight thanks to the United Nations.

The first space-related experience involving U.N. occurred amid the Cold War, where the fear of destructive satellite weapons launched by the U.S. and the Soviet Union forced the creation of UNOOSA, although this is the first time the institution announces an actual space mission.

U.N. member states are expected to propose experiments and payloads for Dream Chaser, which will be subsequently approved in 2018, years in advance of the mission’s launch.

According to UNOOSA, funding for the mission will come from multiple resources, as the main objective is to allow member states to take place in “cost-effective” travel possibilities. The proposed payload will be in place with the fee that the proposing country will have to pay. The participation of sponsors is also expected to finance mission costs and coverage for incidents.

UNOOSA will dedicate its resources toward working with the SNC to dedicate “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 program,” stated UNOOSA director Simonetta Di Pippo.

Dream Chaser will allow international space missions to take place without having to visit the International Space Station, although it will be fully capable of doing so. The first launch will be a two-week long mission, where Dream Chaser will orbit the Earth at a relatively low altitude, without reaching the ISS.

UNOOSA takes part in several projects and activities that have to do with the international implications of space. Its division of space law comprehends treaties and agreements foreseen at the United Nations General Assembly to establish equal rules for space exploration.

Space law takes into account the preservation of space environment and the liability of objects sent to space by humans. There’s also guidelines for the rescuing of astronauts and international cooperation to preserve the lives of humans by sharing information about space-related hazards.

Because more countries will be able to perform experiments in space, a greater effort in international cooperation is likely to occur, as world leaders will have to acknowledge the accomplishments of developing countries by conducting successful experiments in zero gravity.

Source: United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs