Be it weather, crops, global warming, atmosphere, ocean, roads, birds, forest, intelligence, safety, connectivity, land/space transmission, why does the UN not have its own satellites? It could provide immense benefit to 200+ poor UN member nations and spare the rest of humanity of great expense or American and Russian propaganda.

  • $\begingroup$ Because large scale international cooperation makes any complex mission impossible for reasons of politics and corruption. And because the UN is controlled by tyrants who live in the stone age. There is no research of the natural sciences being done in any of the Middle Eastern countries. Simply no interest. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Sep 30, 2016 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ The UN is working on getting exactly that data, if not to own/operate satellites directly: unitar.org/… Full disclosure, I work at Spaceflight Industries. $\endgroup$
    – Adam Wuerl
    Oct 2, 2016 at 5:26

2 Answers 2


The UN does not have a space agency comparable to ESA or NASA. Recently though (Sept 2016), UNOOSA announced a partnership that will allow it to organize space flights, with a commercial partner supplying the infrastructure and other technical aspects. See below. Apart from UNOOSA, several sub-organizations of the UN run space programs:

  • The UN meteorology organization WMO set up the Global Observing System. This distributes meteo information contributed by various members that operate satellites.

The Global Observing System (GOS) provides observations on the state of the atmosphere and ocean surface from the land-based and space-based instruments. This data is used for the preparation of weather analyses, forecasts, advisories and warnings, and for the climate monitoring and environmental activities carried out through other programmes as well as by other international organizations. Global Observing System is operated by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), national or international satellite agencies, and involves several consortia dealing with specific observing systems or specific geographic regions.

  • The UN organization for Training and Research UNITAR has a similar role in GIS and earth observation:

Through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite imagery, UNOSAT provides timely and high-quality geo-spatial information to UN decision makers, member states, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. UNOSAT develops solutions on integrating field collected data with remote sensing imagery and GIS data through web-mapping and information sharing mechanisms, including remote monitoring of development projects and sharing of geographic data using web-services.

Communications services are not provided by the UN, but by a different international organization: Intelsat was set up in 1964 (known then as the International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium).

Intelsat was founded as a public-private consortium in 1964 by the telecommunication agencies of 18 nations, including the United States, which proposed the organization. The transmitting and receiving apparatus in each country was owned by the Intelsat member, the telecommunication agency from that country. Within 10 years the membership of Intelsat had grown to include agencies from 86 countries, and by 2001 about 150 countries were members.

The consortium contracted with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to launch its satellites. The first of these was Early Bird, later renamed Intelsat I...

As the communications industry matured, Intelsat's role and position changed.

Intelsat became a private company in 2001, with its public services under the oversight of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO).


The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs used to be an organization that dealt with the legal aspects of space.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs was initially created as a small expert unit within the United Nations Secretariat to service the ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, established by the General Assembly in its resolution 1348 (XIII) of 13 December 1958.

The unit was moved to work under the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs in 1962 and was transformed into the Outer Space Affairs Division of that Department in 1968. In 1992, the Division was transformed into the Office for Outer Space Affairs within the Department for Political Affairs. In 1993, the Office was relocated to the United Nations Office at Vienna. At that time, the Office also assumed responsibility for substantive secretariat services to the Legal Subcommittee, which had previously been provided by the Office of Legal Affairs in New York.

In September 2016, UNOOSA announced its first foray into actual spaceflight.


It will soon:

The United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is accepting proposals "on anything from developing materials that resist corrosion in space to studying climate change and food security," Motherboard reports. Developing countries get first dibs, but the mission is open to all UN member states. The payloads will be selected by UNOOSA in 2018 and will be launched into low Earth orbit — up to about 1,200 miles [1,900 km] above Earth — in 2021.

This is research, not infrastructure; presumably the UN does not feel it is worthwhile to invest in parallel infrastructure just for the sake of it.


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