United Nations/Brazil Symposium on Basic Space Technology 
"Small Satellite Space Missions"

Natal, Brazil, 11 - 14 September 2018

Co-organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Government of Brazil


Online registration will be opened soon (Application deadline is 15 May 2018 for applicants seeking funding support and 1 August 2018 for self-funded applicants.) 
Please ensure that your application is complete and correct before submitting. Once you have submitted your application, you will not be able to make further changes.


Space technology and its wide range of applications contribute essential information and services to many aspects of sustainable development, that is, economic and social development and environmental conservation and protection. Small satellite missions, which provide an affordable and low risk means to developing and using space technologies, are therefore becoming increasingly important in supporting sustainable development, as well as in the advancement of basic space science and technology, notably through capacity-building. Recognizing this opportunity, the Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which is implementing The United Nations  Programme on Space Applications (PSA), launched  Basic Space Technology Initiative (BSTI) in 2009, in support of capacity-building for the development of basic space technology.

UNOOSA held a series of three  United Nations/Austria/European Space Agency Symposiums on Small Satellite Programmes for Sustainable Development in Graz, Austria from 2009 to 2011. Starting from 2012, the Office has organized  international symposiums on basic space technology under BSTI in the regions that correspond to the UN Economic Commissions for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Asia.

The first Symposium was held as the  United Nations/Japan Nano-Satellite Symposium, hosted by the University of Tokyo and the University Space Engineering Consortium (UNISEC) in Nagoya, Japan, on 10-13 October 2012. The second Symposium was held as the  United Nations/United Arab Emirates Symposium on Basic Space Technology, hosted by the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on 20-23 October 2013. The third Symposium was held as the  United Nations/Mexico Symposium on Basic Space Technology hosted by the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education (CICESE) and the Mexican Space Agency in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, on 20-23 October 2014. The fourth Symposium was held in Stellenbosch, South Africa on 11-15 December 2017 as the  United Nations/South Africa Symposium on Basic Space Technology hosted by the  Stellenbosch University, organized in cooperation with the  Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Trade and Industry on behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, and co-sponsored by the European Space Agency.

The present and fifth Symposium will be held as the United Nations/Brazil Symposium on Basic Space Technology in Natal, Brazil with a special focus on the Latin America and the Caribbean region. It is organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in cooperation with the  National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the  Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rio Grande do Norte (IFRN) and the  Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), on behalf of the Government of Brazil.

Symposium Objectives

The Symposium objectives will build on the outcomes of the aforementioned BSTI Symposiums held from 2009 to 2017. The relevant symposium reports, containing the objectives, symposium summaries, observations and recommendations made by participants are available from the  BSTI Events page

The objectives of the UN/Brazil Symposium will be to:

  1. Review the status of capacity-building in basic space technology for small satellites including lessons learned from the past and on-going development activities with focus on regional and international collaboration opportunities, in particular for countries in Latin America and Caribbean;
  2. Examine issues relevant to the implementation of small satellite programmes, such as organizational capacity-building, development, testing infrastructure and launch opportunities;
  3. Review state-of-the-art scientific applications of small satellite programmes and technological developments associated with them, in particular with focus on applications for agriculture, environment and urban monitoring, and education that support sustainable growth, in line with the  2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
  4. Elaborate on regulatory issues related to space technology development programmes, such as frequency allocation, space debris mitigation measures for enhancing the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and import/export controls;
  5. Elaborate on legal issues and responsibilities related to space technology development programmes, such as those that arise from the sources of international space law;
  6. Discuss the way forward for the Basic Space Technology Initiative (BSTI), and its capacity-building and international cooperation activities in support of the "Space2030" Agenda.

Symposium Programme

The Symposium programme will be structured around a series of dedicated topical sessions.  Presentations will be solicited through a Call for Papers. In addition, renowned experts in the field will be invited to make some of the presentations. The participants will consider specific topics and discuss observations and recommendations for consideration by  COPUOS. Appropriate time will be set aside for discussions and for short presentations by the participants on their own relevant activities.

The following topics will be considered in dedicated sessions:

  • Space Technology Development and Capacity-Building in Basic Space Technology Development with a Focus on Latin America and the Caribbean 
    Space technology has a huge potential to contribute to the development of Latin America and the Caribbean. This session will address space technology development and capacity-building activities, including know-how transfer programmes and opportunities for regional and international cooperation with a focus on, but not limited to, activities in Latin America and the Caribbean region.
  • Small Satellite Missions in Support of Key Scientific Projects and Questions 
    Small satellites, including CubeSat platforms, are becoming increasingly more capable to support scientific missions, not only in Low Earth Orbit. The present session will address the role of small satellite platforms for science missions and new target destinations, for example, the possible use of small satellites for Moon or asteroids exploration.
  • Applications of Small Satellite Missions 
    Small satellites have been developed for a wide range of application missions, including telecommunication, navigation and Earth Observation services. They can offer cost-efficient solutions to replace or complement more expensive, larger satellite missions. This session will also consider the development of small satellite standards, and cost and reliability issues of small satellite missions in comparison to those of larger satellite platforms.
  • Small Satellite Missions Ground Segment 
    For many universities and research institutions, the set-up of a ground station is the first step towards further small satellite development activities. This session will consider aspects of ground segment development for small satellite missions, including ground stations, technical equipment, software tools and procedures for mission development and operations.
  • Small Satellite Projects for Engineering Education 
    Over the last few years a large number of small satellite missions, by a growing number of space actors, have been launched and hundreds more are expected to be launched in the near future. This session will provide a review of small satellite projects worldwide in support of capacity building and engineering education. Challenges such as testing facilities and launching opportunities will also be discussed.
  • Legal and Regulatory Issues 
    Legal and regulatory considerations play an important role in the conduct of outer space activities. The session will include presentations and discussions on relevant national and international legal and regulatory issues.
  • Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities 
    The international space community is discussing measures that may be necessary to assure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. In these discussions, the growing number of small satellite missions, in particular in the context of space debris mitigation, is increasingly under scrutiny. This session will provide an update on the status of these discussions in COPUOS as well as presentations on operational and technical means in support of space debris mitigation.

Kindly note that the Symposium organizers may modify the number and themes of sessions in the final programme.

In addition to the topics described above, there will be panel discussions to share experiences and lessons learned through capacity-building activities in space technology development as well as to promote opportunities for international and regional collaborations among the participants. The sessions will be supplemented by a  poster session as well as by an exhibition, demonstrations of relevant software tools, technical visits and practical hands-on exercises.

The co-sponsors will also organize an attractive programme of side-events for all Symposium participants. The detailed Symposium programme will be made available on this website.

Location and Date

Dates: The Symposium will be held from 11-14 September 2018 in Natal, Brazil. Invited participants will receive a formal invitation letter with further information on available accommodation, logistics and other local arrangements prior to the Symposium.

Venue: The symposium venue will be the  Natal Central Campus of the Federal Institution for Education, Science and Technology of the State of Rio Grande do Norte (IFRN). For photographs of the venue: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Accommodation: The Local Organizing Committee has provided a list of recommended accommodation alternatives close to the venue.

Language of the Workshop

Applicants must have a good working knowledge of English, which will be the official working language of the Symposium.


Symposium participants should be involved in the planning or implementation of space technology development activities in international or national space agencies, governmental or non-governmental organizations, research institutions, industry, universities or other academic institutions. Participants are expected to have obtained university degrees in relevant fields of study or should be enrolled in relevant studies. Professional working experience in one of the fields related to the theme of the Symposium is desirable. Applications from qualified female applicants are particularly encouraged.

Support to Qualified Applicants

Applicants and their nominating organizations are strongly encouraged to find their own sources of sponsorship to participate in the Symposium. However, within the limited financial resourcesavailable to the co-sponsors, a number of qualified applicants from developing and emerging economies expressing the need for financial support will be offered financial support to attend the Symposium.

Support may include the provision of a round-trip air ticket between Natal Airport and the applicant's international airport of departure and/or room and board for the duration of the Symposium. En-route and other expenses or any changes made to an air ticket provided by the co-sponsors must be borne by the participants. Selected applicants will be notified in June-July 2018.

Life and Health Insurance

Life and major health insurance is the responsibility of each selected participant or his/her nominating institution or government. The co-organizers will not assume any responsibility for life and major health insurance, nor for any expenses related to medical treatment or accidents.

Deadline for Submission of Applications

Applications for participation in the Workshop have to be submitted online through this webpage (see top of this page).

The completed applications including the signature page with signatures and seals must be received by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs no later than  15 May 2018 from applicants seeking funding support, and no later than  15 August 2018 from self-funded applicants. Only complete applications received by these deadlines will be considered.


For questions related to the Workshop programme and participation opportunities, please  contact us.

For latest information and updates on the Workshop, it is advised that you frequently visit this webpage.

Exhibition / Field Trip / Hands-on workshop

Information on these details will be announced here as they become available.

  • In addition to the Symposium programme, an optional field trip to the Hell´s Barrier Launch Site and the Space Visitor Center will be organized on 14 September 2018. 

Useful Links

Reference Materials



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