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United Nations to Launch its First-Ever Space Mission in 2021

Sep 29, 2016 04:41 AM EDT

The United Nations is set to launch its first-ever space mission in 2021.

The organization's two-week robotic mission will fly on board Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft. Details of the mission were announced during the International Astronautical Congress held in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sept. 27.

According to SNC, the Dream Chaser mission aims to provide developing nations the opportunity to fly payloads for an extended duration in orbit. Other member states of the UN could also propose payloads for the mission. The countries that will be chosen to provide payloads will pay a portion of the mission's total cost. Developing nations are likely to get a reasonable price break. The organizations are also seeking sponsors that will help finance the mission.

"One of UNOOSA's core responsibilities is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space," Simonetta Di Pippo, director of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) said in a news release.

"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."

UNOOSA will also offer technical support to countries that lack expertise or experience in developing microgravity payloads. The organizations will start selecting payloads in early 2018 to allow ample time for development and integration into the Dream Chaser spacecraft.

The Dream Chaser spacecraft is capable of carrying both crewed vehicles and cargo. It measures about 30 feet (9 meters) and looks like a smaller version of the NASA space shuttle. The spacecraft is reusable, launches vertically, and lands horizontally on commercial airports or spaceports. NASA has recently selected the uncrewed transport version of the spacecraft for a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

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