Space exploration is exciting but for many countries in the world it is an impossible goal. It’s actually only a handful of countries that can afford the steep cost of space programs. Most other countries, especially developing countries, still have goals to achieve here on planet Earth. Poverty, poor infrastructure, access to healthcare and education are things that some countries still struggle with. Whatever exciting discoveries await in space, they have to wait.
But that may change as the United Nations plans to give access to all countries to space exploration. Introducing low cost space missions, the UN plans to democratize access to Earth’s orbit.
The United Nations and Sierra Nevada Corporation
The United Nations announced that it will launch a mission in 2021 that is going to give developing countries the opportunity to fly their own payloads into low Earth orbit. It is going to be a first for those countries and an opportunity that they weren’t counting on.
The program is going to be a partnership between the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Sierra Nevada Corporation.
Eren Ozmen, the owner and president of Sierra Nevada Corporation said in a statement that the company’s goal is to pay it forward. He added that the company intends to leverage “the creation and success of our Dream Chaser spacecraft to benefit future generations of innovators like us all around the world”.
Dream Chaser is Sierra Nevada Corporation’s reusable ship. It specializes in delivering commercial cargo into Earth’s orbit. According to the SNC website, plans for the spaceship are for it to land autonomously in airports and spaceports the world over. The fact that the Dream Chaser is reusable makes it perfect for conducting missions for the United Nations. Member states that don’t have a platform to access space will have the opportunity to carry out low cost missions using the Dream Chaser.
The History of the UNOOSA
The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs was started in 1958. Originally, it was a small committee comprised of experts that was going to give advice to a larger committee, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. That committee had Cold War era concerns regarding the use of espionage and weapons in space between the United States and the Soviet Union. Almost 60 years have passed since the UNOOSA was set up. During all this time, the UN hasn’t actually conducted a mission into space. The partnership between the Sierra Nevada Corporation and the UNOOSA is going to be a first for the international body.
It’s going to be a first for the UN, but it’s not a first in the field of space exploration. The field used to be dominated by state-based space agencies like NASA. But commercial space ventures are now becoming more and more common. Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are taking space missions into the realm of private enterprise. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, recently announced that his company has plans to go to Mars. He said that SpaceX is likely to get there before NASA does.
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