The UN General Assembly declared in 1999 that World Space Week would be held each year from October 4-10. These dates commemorate two events:
- 4 October 1957: Launch of the first human-made Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, thus opening the way for space exploration
- 10 October 1967: The signing of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.
World Space Week aims to:
- Educate people around the world about the benefits that they receive from space
- Encourage greater use of space for sustainable economic development
- Demonstrate public support for space programmes
- Excite young people about science
- Foster international cooperation in space outreach and education.
Each year a different theme is chosen. The theme for 2017, “Exploring New Worlds in Space” focused attention on missions with a vision for exploration and utilisation of extraterrestrial resources, such as metals from asteroids, water from the Moon, and unlimited solar energy in the Earth's orbit. For further details, and to find out the annual theme, visit the World Space Week website or the UN World Space Week web pages. Our article on Space Exploration also has lots of background information and ideas for teaching activities.