After the USSR launched its first Earth Satellite in 1957 and thereby opened the space age, the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), now the International Science Council (ISC), established its Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) during an international meeting in London in 1958. COSPAR’s first Space Science Symposium was organized in Nice in January 1960 (see COSPAR History).
COSPAR’s objectives are to promote on an international level scientific research in space, with emphasis on the exchange of results, information and opinions, and to provide a forum, open to all scientists, for the discussion of problems that may affect scientific space research. These objectives are achieved through the organization of Scientific Assemblies, publications and other means.
In its first years of existence COSPAR, as an entity that ignores political considerations and views all questions solely from the scientific standpoint, played an important role as an open bridge between East and West for cooperation in space. When this role became less prominent with the decline in rivalry between the two blocs, COSPAR, as an interdisciplinary scientific organization, focused its objectives on the progress of all kinds of research carried out with the use of space means (including balloons).
COSPAR acts mainly as an entity which:
- is responsible for organizing biennial Scientific Assemblies with strong contributions from most countries engaged in space research. These meetings allow the presentation of the latest scientific results, the exchange of knowledge and also the discussion of space research problems. Over several decades providing this service has brought recognition to the COSPAR Scientific Assembly as the premier forum for presenting the most important results in space research in all disciplines and as the focal point for truly international space science. In this regard it should be observed that COSPAR has played a central role in the development of new space disciplines such as life sciences or fundamental physics, by facilitating the interaction between scientists in emergent space fields and senior space researchers,provides the means for rapid publication of results in its journal Advances in Space Research,
- strives to promote the use of space science for the benefit of mankind and for its adoption by developing countries and new space-faring nations, in particular through a series of Capacity Building Workshops which teach very practical skills enabling researchers to participate in international space research programs,
- organizes, on a regional scale, scientific exchange and public outreach on specific research topics, in the framework of Colloquia and Symposia,
- advises, as required, the UN and other intergovernmental organizations on space research matters or on the assessment of scientific issues in which space can play a role, for example the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), in which COSPAR is a Participating Organization,
- prepares scientific and technical standards related to space research,
- promotes, on an international level, research in space, much of which has grown into large international collaborative programs in the mainstream of scientific