Floating in near zero-gravity, 400 kilometres above the Pacific Ocean and flying at over 28,000 kilometres per hour, the six crew members onboard the International Space Station (ISS) joined the key United Nations forum on outer space affairs via video link on Wednesday, to discuss the importance of working together.
NASA astronauts Drew Feustel, Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor; Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev; together with European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, hovered in front of their national flags, as an ecstatic audience cheered and took "selfies" with them on screens in the main hall where the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was meeting in Vienna, as part of the UNISPACE+50 forum.
Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev delivered a very simple yet powerful message to the UN forum.
"Peace for our planet," he declared, as the audience erupted in applause.
Commander Feustel highlighted the importance of everyone having access to space:
"I hope that as we continue forward as an international group, that we will all put our common thoughts and rational thoughts" in how space is used, together, he said, recognizing "that the goal should not necessarily be to dominate space, but to help facilitate access so that we as a species – not just as individual nations or individual people – can continue on into the future."
With their feet planted firmly on the ground in the Austrian capital, UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Director Simonetta Di Pippo, together with UN Champion for Space, Scott Kelly (himself a former NASA astronaut), and NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green, led the discussion.