Statement at the opening of the 56th session of the Scientific-Technical Sub-Committee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS)


56th Session, Vienna, 11 February - 22 February 2019 - Germany                        

Item 3: General exchange of views

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Delegates,

Germany associates itself with the EU statement and add the following remarks in its national capacity:

Germany would like to thank UNOOSA for their excellent work in preparation for this meeting. We would also like to express our gratitude to Ms. Maruping for her experienced guidance in the period 2018-2019 and we look forward to this year’s session of the subcommittee.

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Delegates,

Space activities are entering a new phase, with an unprecedented number of objects launched into space every year, more countries entering the space sector, increased participation from private actors introducing revolutionary technologies and new challenges posed to the sustainability and safety of outer space activities.

Germany is convinced that through UNOOSA and UNCOPUOS, States can maintain a crucial conversation on all these issues. It is important to keep in mind that the pace of evolution in international space cooperation and regulation depends mostly on dialogues among States. The ongoing dialogue and exchange of information has been and certainly will be one of the keys to the success for fostering safe and sustainable space operations in orbits and the mitigation of space debris. UNCOPUOS was instrumental in the development of its Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines, which since 2007 provide guidance to space operators in this respect. Member states have worked for nearly a decade to develop guidelines to promote sustainable space operations and curb the growing space debris population around the Earth. In 2018, consensus was reached on twenty-one guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, LTS.

Germany strongly promotes the continuation of this dialogue and the consideration of LTS in COPUOS. Besides the Subcommittee’s agenda item on the LTS, which allows Member states to share their experiences with the implementation, Germany considers it appropriate to establish a Working Group and develop clear procedures for

reviewing and updating the guidelines; and

introducing and considering new candidate guidelines.

Hopefully the Committee will be able to reach consensus on how to continue work on the topic of LTS during 2019.

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Delegates,

With the „Space2030“ agenda moving forward, 2019 is going to be a major year for UNOOSA and the space community.

As defined by the UN General Assembly resolution itself, the „Space2030“ agenda shall be the first-ever comprehensive strategy for enhancing the contribution of space to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Another important element of the strategy will be the strengthening of global governance of outer space activities as a means to ensure sustainable space operations and enhancing international cooperation.

Germany is firmly committed to contribute to these processes in shaping the future course of global space cooperation and contributing to the implementation of the UN Sustainable development goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sendai Framework Agreement.

The results of our space research projects lead to beneficial applications back on Earth in medicine, agriculture, mechanical engineering and land surveying, to name just a few areas.

With the German Space Strategy we made it our mission to bring these results to their best use for societal benefits in Germany, in Europe and around the world:

For example, with the EO College the German Aerospace Center, DLR, offers together with ESA massive open online courses about remote sensing – accessible from around the world, thereby contributing to space-related education without any barriers to participation.

With DESIS in August 2018, a monitoring system was mounted to the exterior of the ISS that will allow us to provide hyperspectral data to support scientific, humanitarian and commercial goals. This data will enable assessment of the situation after environmental disasters, assist farmers in the targeted management of their land, and serve scientists as a basis for the development of novel atmospheric correction algorithms.

Speaking of earth observation data, this is an area where we do see unlocked potential. In order to facilitate the use of data, the 90-metre TanDEM-X Digital Elevation Model has been released in 2018 for scientific use and is now available as a global dataset. By providing this data, DLR follows the open data policy and encourages free and open access to satellite data.

In Germany, we understand that international cooperation is vital to reach a common view and pool efforts in bringing the benefits of space to earth.

And we are very glad to work closely together with many different partners around the world. Let me just briefly name some recent developments in this respect:

A prominent example contributing to climate change monitoring has been the DLR and NASA GRACE Mission. This highly successful cooperation is now continued with the GRACE Follow-On mission that has been launched in May 2018. Its mission objective is to continuously measure the Earth’s gravity field and its spatial representation to gain better knowledge of the storage and loss of water in continental glaciers, lakes and groundwater layers.

In the field of space exploration, we are very pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to Chinas outstanding Chang'e 4-Mission with a joint collaboration payload. The Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry, installed on the lander and developed in Germany, will accomplish measurements in the complex radiation field of the lunar surface.

With our European partners we are collaborating in the MetOp programme. In November 2018 the weather satellite MetOp-C was launched and joined the two identical satellites, MetOp-A and B. They are all operated by EUMETSAT and have significantly improved the quality of weather forecasting. Their tasks also include monitoring climate change, for example the hole in the ozone layer.

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Delegates,

Through UN-SPIDER, UNOOSA attempts to broaden and extend the benefits of space by providing technical advisory support, particularly for the benefit of developing countries, on using space technologies for disaster management and reducing disaster risks.

Through the UN-SPIDER programme, UNOOSA is present in Vienna, Bonn and Beijing. Germany has been an ally of the UN-SPIDER programme since its inception and continues to support the programme. A new 5-year plan supported by DLR will open a new chapter for the Bonn Office to work with the University of Bonn, DLR-DFD and with other partners in advancing the use of space technologies in disaster Management.

Madam Chair,

Distinguished Delegates,

Let me conclude my remarks by expressing my gratitude to you, Ms. Di Pippo and your team at UNOOSA for having made possible the United Nations/Germany High Level Forum in November 2018 in Bonn and for the excellent cooperation during the preparation of the event.

And we also wish to thank all participants and Member states for their valuable contributions and for having made the event a success.

This International Conference was the first opportunity to take stock of the outcomes of UNISPACE+50. With more than 300 registrations from almost 60 different countries it has given a platform to the broader space community to discuss the way forward on Space2030.

Finally, before closing, we would like to express our deep condolences to the delegation of the Russian Federation for the loss of their esteemed colleague Georgiy Barsegov, who passed away earlier this year. We have come to know and appreciate Georgiy as a sincere and upright member of this Committee who cared deeply for the topics we are engaging with here. His loss will leave a hole and he will be missed.

Madam Chair, distinguished Delegates, we thank you for your kind attention.

Top of page