Magazine article UN Chronicle

The Chronicle Interview

Magazine article UN Chronicle

The Chronicle Interview

Article excerpt

AMBASSADOR DUMITRU-DORIN PRUNARIU is President of the Romanian Space Agency and Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). In 1981, he became the first Romanian in space when he flew aboard spacecraft "Soyuz 40" and space laboratory "Saliut 6". Born in Brasov, Mr. Prunariu graduated in 1976 from the Polytechnic University in Bucharest, with a degree in aerospace engineering. After a three-year Intercosmos space flight training programme for cosmonauts in Star City, Russia, he spent over a week in 1981 in outer space aboard Saliut 6, completing scientific experiments in astrophysics, radiation, space technologies, medicine and biology. Since 1995, he has been Vice-President of the EURISC (European Institute for Risk Management, Security and Communication) Foundation.

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Ambassador Prunariu spoke with Horst Rutsch and Belal Hassan of the UN Chronicle on 18 October 2004.

On the main thrust of COPUOS in 2004

The third United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) was organized in Vienna in 1999. The Vienna Declaration, a very important document issued by the Conference, includes new approaches to space activities for human development. In 2004, at the request of the UN General Assembly, we made a full report of the activities during the past years, in accordance with the Vienna Declaration, for presentation on 20 October 2004. The report represents the hard work done in the framework of COPUOS and its subsidiary bodies, and summarizes the activities during the last five years of the Committee and the bodies established to implement the recommendations of UNISPACE III, meaning action teams, working groups and so on.

On space technology and the environment

The UNISPACE III agenda is focused mainly on issues such as eradication of extreme poverty, hunger, education, health and protection of the environment. COPUOS members are organized in action teams and working groups, and they take part in establishing a global agenda that includes important issues for their country's development and how space can contribute to this development, as well as their own approach to different problems. For instance, one of the main action teams, with more than forty members, is concerned with the relief of consequences of natural hazards or disasters. Member States bring their expertise and their contribution not only in funding but also in organizing activities, which include finding international support to implement the recommendations reached under the Committee's framework. Another important team is involved in promoting education on the true meaning of outer space, using specific space technologies in far-reaching regions; one main programme, for instance, has been developed by India.

On peaceful uses of outer space for development

The United Nations has not only COPUOS but also other specialized bodies; for instance, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations uses space technology and space information for improving agriculture in several countries. In Romania, a programme is being developed for determining exactly the type of land and its possible use for different commercial activities. With the help of space imaging, we can assist in discovering water, optimizing the use of the earth's facilities and also determining its evolution in different regions in Africa. Facilitating access of developing countries to space technology, for instance, can be mainly through remote-sensing information, because this is the main means to have the necessary information to solve the problems in those countries. Also, by reaching mutual understanding between national and international organizations in case of natural disasters, for instance, countries are able to access free information.

On the "spin-off benefits" of space technology

Every country publishes annually information on the "spin-off benefits" of space technology; for instance, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issues a book on the implementation of space technology in the economy and in private life, and a lot of inventions and discoveries made using space technologies for exploration and for the general public. …

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