ISU Students Visit UNCOPUOS in Vienna

Compiled By: Mansoor Shar, UK, B.Sc Computer ScienceMSS15

A couple of weeks ago, a number of delegates from the International Space University attended the 52nd Scientific & Technical Subcommittee at the United Nations Committee On the Peaceful Use of Outer Space. Upon arrival, they were immediately impressed by the Viennese architecture and general beauty of the historical city. Their participation was highly appreciated by many of the delegates and the Space Generation Advisory Council who noted that this was the largest student delegation ever to attend the meeting. The attendees of the event are listed below:


All of the participants were surveyed on their experience, the results of which are presented below.

Why did you want to attend the UNCOPUOS meeting?
There were a number of reasons why ISU students wanted to attend the UNCOPUOS. First and most prevalent was the desire to gain a deeper understanding about how the UNCOPUOS is organized and to witness how the various delegates approach the meeting. Notably many students mentioned that this was their first time to engage in a professional environment where politics and engineering converged. They were interested in seeing not only how scientists, engineers, lawyers and national delegations interacted, but also gaining perspective about how the space policies we learned in class are developed and presented. Second many students were interested in the networking opportunity that this event presented. Students looked forward to meeting not only with other delegations and members of industry, but also with members of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and the ISU extended community.

Finally, many students expressed their wish to support their school and their country. This year we were very fortunate to be able to present one of the team projects – the Global Water Initiative (GWI). While several delegates personally expressed interest in also hearing about the Interstellar Travel team project, presenting the GWI TP gave students a good opportunity to showcase the work being done at ISU. Importantly, students also wanted to support their country. Some countries do not have representation at UNCOPUOS (Guatemala for example), and students felt they would like to support the integration of their home countries in order to help develop their national economy, technologies, education and laws.


Did you enjoy the meeting? Why? What did you gain?

All of the students thoroughly enjoyed the experience at the UNCOPUOS meeting. Students gained new insight into the workings of UNCOPUOS and developed a new found appreciation for different countries and organizations, the activities they carry out, and the process of coming together to achieve a common goal. Students enjoyed feeling a part of something real, something bigger than classrooms and speakers. The intangible experience helped students gain perspective, knowledge on operations and procedures and importantly the views presented by other delegates.

Students were also able to learn about important development plans from countries that would otherwise be difficult to attain. For example, the students were able to see a presentation by the Argentine Space Agency regarding their new efforts to develop a launch capability. Many students also gained important contacts. These contacts will be useful for their respective team projects, Individual projects as well as potentially leading to internship opportunities. Also, in the final evening, some of the students attended the Space for Global Health event hosted by ESPI. This event was in line with interests in the medical disciplines and the reception presented an excellent opportunity to network and learn more about the talks earlier in the day.

Would you recommend that students attend the meeting in future years?
All of the students recommend that future students attend this event, either as a part of an ISU or SGAC delegation. Students felt that it was a formidable occasion to interact in an international, interdisciplinary and intercultural environment and also apply what they learn at ISU to real-world organizations and meetings. The opportunity to socialize with students and professionals worldwide, and gain insights and views from outside the ISU environment in a more active, less teacher/student environment was invaluable. It was noted that many of the attendees did not know about ISU. Sending an annual delegation would help spread the word, raise awareness, and help cement ISU’s reputation in industry and the wider space community. Students have noted that ISU often struggles with not reaching quality students, so this would help in an effort to promote ISU at a reputable venue.


Finally, it was recommended that a select number of students should go and students with less experience should be given advice on how to interact in a diplomatic fashion. The students attending should be aware of what they stepping into to avoid the embarrassments of the past. All the student felt it is important to represent ISU as best as possible in order to cultivate an active and rewarding connection between ISU and UNCOPUOS.
The technical discussions and presentations ranged from India’s plan to get to Mars, debris mitigation, and the link between cosmology and philosophy. There is enough space, interest, and desire for both Team Projects to be presented in the following years.