The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Director Simonetta Di Pippo said in a statement that one of the Space Affairs Office’s “core responsibilities is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space…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."
The announcement was made in Guadalajara, Mexico, at the International Astronautical Congress.
Any UN member state will be able to participate in the mission, but developing countries without space programs will have priority. Sponsors will cover most of the cost, but countries selected to supply payloads are expected to pay what they are able to toward the mission. Payload proposals are to be submitted by early 2018.
Since the mission’s chief aim is to assist countries without space programs with conducting microgravity tests and delivering payloads to low-Earth orbit, UNOOSA will offer technical support to participating member states
Di Pippo said,"We will continue to work closely with SNC to define the parameters of this mission which, in turn, will provide United Nations Member States with the ability to access space in a cost-effective and collaborative manner within a few short years…The possibilities are endless."
The reusable, multi-mission Dream Chaser spacecraft can carry seven crewmembers, land at spaceports and commercial airports, and carry cargo to the International Space Station and other stops in low-Earth orbit.
A NASA commercial resupply services contract, awarded to SNC earlier this year, will allow the Dream Chaser to return research samples to NASA.
In a statement, SNC said, "SNC’s Dream Chaser is the only reusable, lifting-body, multi-mission-spacecraft capable of landing at commercial airports or spaceports able to accommodate large commercial aircraft – anywhere in the world," adding that, "This offers the opportunity to land the United Nations mission in any licensed Member State supplying a payload on the mission."