UK General Statement to COPUOS Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee

President, Distinguished Delegates

We would first like to take this opportunity to join others in welcoming the President to his new role. We would also like to thank the Director of UNOOSA, Simonetta Di Pippo, for continuing to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the UK and UNOOSA over the past few years and wish Simonetta every success in her future endeavours.

The UK delegation welcomes the opportunity to share with you the progress and developments we have made since the last meeting of this sub-committee.

In September 2021, the UK published its National Space Strategy. The National Space Strategy is the first time the UK Government has brought together civil and defense space policy and set out a bold vision for the UK’s space future. Critically, the National Space Strategy underlines the importance the UK attaches to the United Nations and COPUOS. International collaboration with our partners and allies, delivery agencies, industry and academia remains at the heart of our vision to secure our ambitions and build future global innovation. To that end, 2022 promises to be an exciting year for international space cooperation. Later this year we should see the first observations from the James Webb Space Telescope to which the UK has contributed the MIRI instrument. We will also see the launch of ESA’s Rosalind Franklin Rover, which has had significant involvement from UK industry and academia.

We are also pleased to see continued multilateral cooperation in 2022 on many of the most pressing issues facing us today in outer space. At the moment, parallel international conversations are taking place both here in Vienna, where the UK is proud to play a part in supporting UNOOSA’s work on many issues, including the long-term sustainability of Outer Space, and in Geneva, where the UK is leading the efforts of the newly created task force to combat threatening space behaviour.

Space sustainability is a key priority for the UK. The UK recognizes the important work of the Inter-Agency Debris Coordinating Committee in developing a common understanding of the sustainable use of Earth’s orbit and continues to use this work and associated guidance to inform our decision-making processes. With regard to recent events, the UK encourages compliance with space debris mitigation guidelines which aim to minimize the potential for in-orbit disruptions, which includes the prevention of intentional destruction which will generate long-lived orbital debris of life.

The UK is playing a leading role in supporting an inclusive approach to capacity building and implementation of the LTS guidelines. In addition to our intention to submit the annual UK conference paper on the voluntary implementation of the LTS guidelines, the UK has been pleased to fund UNOOSA to publish the LTS guidelines in the 6 official languages ​​of the United Nations and organize international expert events to exchange information on implementation. . The UK will provide a further update in its long-term sustainability statement later this week.

The UK is also pleased to have launched its second project with UNOOSA, entitled Strategic Mapping: International efforts using Space for Climate Action. The aim is to produce a truly comprehensive study of how international organizations are using space technology to address climate resilience, mitigation, adaptation and monitoring. We invite all interested international organizations to contact UNOOSA if they wish to contribute to this valuable exercise.

COP26 took place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, 2021 and brought nations together to chart the future course of the fight against climate change. During the event, the UK space agency signed a new MicroCarb implementation agreement with the French space agency CNES and announced several key projects at COP26 that we are delivering. These announcements included the unveiling of the new TRUTHS mission design and a thermal data pilot in partnership with the National Center for Earth Observation and the Ordnance Survey.

In terms of our spaceflight ambitions, in July 2021 the UK Space Industry Regulations were enacted by our Parliament, allowing horizontal and vertical launch from the UK, and the creation of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the independent regulator of spaceflight in the UK. We would like to point out that the CAA will be providing a technical presentation on the morning of Monday 14 February explaining how it regulates UK space activities, in particular in relation to launching from the UK over the coming year.

The British delegation acknowledges the continued and constructive work of the Working Group on the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space and looks forward to receiving its report at this session. We will release a full statement on this later in the week. We would again like to express our thanks to Dr. Sam Harbison for his long and excellent leadership of the task force.

The UK also recognizes the importance of the issue of dark and calm skies and looks forward to further discussions on the single agenda item next week.

Finally, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, we look forward to a constructive session to deepen our cooperation and dialogue in the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space.