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The United Nations (UN) has teamed up with private space firm Sierra Nevada Corporation to launch the UN’s first space mission.
The mission, announced at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, is meant to help developing nations launch their own payloads, the space firm announced in a press statement.
As for a host spacecraft, payloads will be lifted into orbit via Sierra Nevada’s unmanned Dream Chaser “orbital vehicle”, being similar to Boeing’s X37B unmanned spaceplane.
“The dedicated Dream Chaser mission is targeted at providing developing countries the opportunity to develop and fly microgravity payloads for an extended duration in orbit; however, all United Nations Member States will be able to propose payloads for the mission,” Sierra Nevada explained.
The UN and Sierra Nevada mission potentially opens the door for spacecraft to land in UN member states
What about the date for the first UN mission, then?
“The first-ever United Nations space mission is intended to launch in 2021 and will allow United Nations Member States to participate in a 14-day flight to low-Earth orbit on SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft.”
Countries chosen to provide a payload will need to pay a portion of the costs for the mission, but “major sponsors” are also being sought to pay for most of the costs.
These payloads will be chosen in 2018, giving ample time for the load to be developed and integrated into the host spacecraft ahead of the 2021 launch.
Sierra Nevada claims that the Dream Chaser will be able to land at spaceports and even commercial airports.
“This offers the opportunity to land the United Nations mission in any licensed Member State supplying a payload on the mission. SNC is currently working with airports and spaceports to be granted a Federal Aviation Administration reentry license for commercial Dream Chaser missions.”