This looks like this answer because that's where I found this.

Ars Technica's SpaceX Starlink engineers take questions in Reddit AMA—here are highlights included a reader poll when I viewed it, screen shot below. It said:

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs monitors and logs objects, including satellites, launched each year.

Their home page is at https://www.unoosa.org/ and there is a page called Outer Space Objects Index

But this just looks like an attempt to make a "UN Satcat clone"

Question: Is the United Nations Outer Space Objects Index anything more than a clone of the Satcat I can find in Celestrak? Is it even that, or less?

I'm wondering if it uses a separate and independent process for discovery, enumeration and cataloging (I don't think they have their own, independent tracking system) and if there are any uses for which it is better than the Satcat.

Or instead is it just a way of keeping an independent eye on space stuff?

screenshot of online poll from Ars Technica

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not an expert on this so won't put it as a complete answer, but on the Wikipedia page for "International Designator" (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Designator) I noted the following (emphasis mine): "The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), part of NASA, maintain two catalogs that provide additional information on the launchers and payloads associated with the designators". $\endgroup$
    – tardigrade
    Nov 29, 2020 at 12:05

2 Answers 2


It seems to be considerably less. That is, they don't seem to have any sensors of their own -- they just wait for other people to report what they launched, and don't appear to seek regular updates.


3235 (XXIX). Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space


  1. When a space object is launched into earth orbit or beyond, the launching State shall register the space object by means of an entry in an appropriate registry which it shall maintain. Each launching State shall inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the establishment of such a registry.

  2. Where there are two or more launching States in respect of any such space object, they shall jointly determine which one of them shall register the object

  3. The contents of each registry and the conditions under which it is maintained shall be determined by the State of registry concerned.


  1. Each State of registry shall furnish to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as soon as practicable, the following information concerning each space object carried on its registry: (a) name of launching State or States; (b) an appropriate designator of the space object or its registration number; (c) date and territory or location of launch; (d) basic orbital parameters, including: (i) nodal period; (ii) inclination; (iii) apogee; (iv) perigee; (e) general function of the space object.

  2. Each State of registry may, from time to time, provide the Secretary-General of the United Nations with additional information concerning a space object carried on its registry.

  3. Each State of registry shall notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the greatest extent feasible and as soon as practicable, of space objects concerning which it has previously transmitted information, and which have been but no longer are in earth orbit.


The answer is "no" because that is not its purpose.

The role of the UN list is a place for the launching states to register those details they are obliged to do so by international treaty. From the first paragraph of Outer Space Objects Index:

... information provided to the United Nations in accordance with the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space and General Assembly resolution 1721 B (XVI).

For those in high places, it appears its as important to hear what people say about their satellites as where they really are. Its up to you to decide for yourself when that might be useful. I think any notion of the UN doing "monitoring" has crept in through the sources quoted in the OP.


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