UN’s first space mission will fly ‘Dream Chasers’ into orbit by 2021

The UN will fly to space in a Dream Chaser spacecraft © Sierra Nevada Corporation
The United Nations has announced it will launch its first ever orbital mission aboard the Sierra Nevada's ‘Dream Chaser’ spaceplane within five years to help countries without established programs explore outer space.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), formed in 1962, said that they are teaming up with space transport company Sierra Nevada Corporation to launch a two-week robotic mission to low-Earth orbit in 2021.

The mission is designed to be accessible to countries that don’t have their own space program or major scientific resources, so UNOOSA will also be offering technical support to countries that want to participate.

"One of UNOOSA's core responsibilities is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space," UNOOSA’s director Simonetta Di Pippo said.

"I am proud to say that one of the ways UNOOSA will achieve this, in cooperation with our partner Sierra Nevada Corporation, 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 programme."

Countries opting to reach for the stars will be asked to pay a portion of the mission’s cost, but poorer nations are expected to get on board at a reduced fee. The UN said they are also seeking major sponsors to finance a large portion of the cost of the mission.

According to Di Pippo, funding of the mission will come from multiple sources. "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."

Payloads will be selected in early 2018 to allow time for development and integration into the Dream Chaser spacecraft for launch in 2021.

At SNC our goal is to pay it forward,” Eren Ozmen, SNC’s owner and president said. “That means leveraging the creation and success of our Dream Chaser spacecraft to benefit future generations of innovators like us all around the world.”

The 30-foot-long (9 meters) Dream Chaser is a reusable, multi-mission space-plane that can carry up to seven passengers and is also a cargo-hauling craft.

It’s capable of landing at both commercial airports and spaceports meaning that it can land in any of the member states supplying a payload for the mission.