The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs has been kicking around in one form or another since the late 50s, becoming fully official in 1962, when it was established under the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs as the wonderfully named Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
But, as anyone who’s ever hung out in a planetarium will happily tell you, talking about space and actually going to space are two very different things, indeed.
If things going according to plan, however, the committee will finally realize the latter by 2021, thanks to a deal announced with privatized space transport company, Sierra Nevada Corporation. The company, which currently holds a number of NASA contracts for all sorts of futuristic dealings, is partnering with UNOOSA to help UN countries without established space programs slip the surly bonds of Earth in five years.
UN member countries will be asked to submit proposals for an upcoming low earth orbit mission, giving them access to a microgravity environment over a two-week period.
Here’s UNOOSA’s director, Simonetta Di Pippo,
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 SNC, 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 program.
Countries chosen to participate will be required to pay a portion of the mission cost based on payload and a sliding economic scale. SNC is also looking for sponsors for the 2021 mission.