The U.S. has hosted what it says is the first ever ministerial-level meeting to build support for cooperation in space.
Officials from more than 30 nations, including China, Russia, India and from the European Union, gathered in Washington Thursday for discussions on the future of space exploration, developments in robotic space exploration and extending humanity’s reach beyond low-Earth orbit.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of the State William Burns reconfirmed the U.S. commitment for space exploration and spoke of the need to cooperate for common goals, such as defending the planet from near-earth objects and space debris.
"We continue to work through the United Nation's committee on the peaceful uses of outer space to deal with this challenge. And we are working with the European Union and other countries to develop an international code of conduct for outer space activities," said Burns.
John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the International Space Station is an ideal platform for working together.
"We may have different flags patched to our space suits and different cultures, different traditions and different political systems, but as the success of the International Space Station has shown, we can transcend those differences in space," said Holdren.
Several important milestones were reached in the past year in space, including China becoming the third country to complete a successful landing on the moon, India launching its Mars orbiter mission and the United States' Voyager 1 becoming the first man-made object to leave the solar system.