UAE becomes a signatory to the Rescue Agreement

29 April 2019

The UAE, represented by the UAE Space Agency and in coordination with the UAE Embassy in Austria, has concluded its participation in the meetings of the legal subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which were held in the Austrian capital, Vienna. During the meetings, attendees discussed various means of improving the governance of space internationally, as well as the space sector’s contribution to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


The delegation from the UAE Space Agency highlighted several developments within the UAE space sector including: the recently launched National Plan for the Promotion of Space Investment; the steps taken by the UAE to facilitate human spaceflight and space tourism; the launch of the UAE space object registry; and the steps taken by the UAE Space Agency to reduce space debris and limit its impact on the stability of the space environment.


The Agency delegation also sought to shed light on the UAE’s extensive work in improving space governance, its forward-looking space policy, the steps it has taken towards enabling the utilization of space resources, and its efforts to develop the next generation of space pioneers through promoting STEM subjects and enhancing educational opportunities on a national level.


His Excellency Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency: “Through our active participation in this committee, we seek to enhance the UAE’s role and affirm its commitment to international agreements and to ensuring the implementation of their articles. The UAE is dedicated to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and supporting the growth of the space sector through cooperation and collaboration with regional and international partners. We continually look for opportunities to exchange knowledge and expertise in a manner that contributes to the improvement of humanity’s living standards and our understanding of the universe.”


Eng. Nasser Al Rashidi, Director of Space Policy & Regulations at the UAE Space Agency, said: “Through our participation in the meetings of the legal committee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, we aim to shed light on the UAE’s efforts in space legislation and laws. Our national legislative framework for space takes into account international laws and agreements, while also incorporating a comprehensive range of New Space activities including the likes of commercial space flight and space mining and resource utilization.”


During the meetings, the UAE announced its adoption of the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space. The agreement stipulates that any state that is a party to the agreement must take all possible steps to rescue and assist astronauts in distress and promptly return them to the launching state, and that states shall, upon request, provide assistance to launching states in recovering space objects that return to Earth outside the territory of the launching state.


While attending the meetings in Vienna, Sumaya Al Hajeri, Head of Space Legislation at the UAE Space Agency presented details of the UAE’s space object registry. The registry includes several innovative approaches to keeping track of small satellites and space objects and has been recognized by a number of countries for its implementation of international best practices.


Al Hajeri said: “The UAE’s membership in the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space provides us with an opportunity to share the latest developments and achievements of our national space sector with other member countries. Through our engagement with COPUOS and participation in its various meetings we also strive to exchange knowledge and expertise with other member states as well as ensure that the decisions taken by the committee are in line with the national interests of the UAE.”


The scientific and technical subcommittee of COPUOS convened in February in Vienna, Austria, and it will convene again in June to issue the decisions that have been discussed during the meetings of the subcommittees.