International Space Year


China - stamp International Space Year 1992International Space Year (ISY) was the first yearlong worldwide celebration of the Space Age. ISY was highlighted by globally coordinated space research activities in 1992 and coordinated planning for space programs extending into the 21st century. There were also public activities throughout the world, ranging from curriculum materials and student projects to films, books, television series, conferences, and museum exhibits.


The concept of an International Space Year was first suggested in 1985 by Senator Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii. He proposed that the ISY be held in 1992 to commemorate two historic events: the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World, with its themes of exploration and discovery, and the 35th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year (IGY), with its themes of scientific inquiry and global cooperation. It was the IGY that ushered in the Space Age, in 1957-1958, with the launching of the first artificial satellites.


The “ISY idea” was based upon the notion that space is not just a place, but also an age with a new global perspective - a perspective that can be exemplified in the first photograph taken by Apollo astronauts of the whole Earth suspended in space. That single, potent Russia - stamps International Space Year 1992image started a revolution in humanity’s views of itself and its world, so that we now see a more holistic “spaceship Earth.” Scientific research has, in turn, made use of automated spacecraft to study that interactive global system, and technologies such as communications satellites have brought the world’s citizens closer together in a very practical way.


The perspective of the Space Age - and of the ISY - is also transgenerational. The cosmic time scales of the universe bring home the fact that many fundamental human activities - from the study of our own planet to the search for other planetary systems - must adopt a long-term approach if they are to succeed.


A central focus of the ISY was Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE), which saw scientists worldwide using space technologies to assess such threats to the Earth’s environment as global warming, deforestation, and ozone depletion. MTPE also included training programs for developing nations, as well as educational projects and public events, that sought to carry the ISY’s global perspective to students and the general public. There were also numerous ISY programs in the space sciences.





Article 'Mission to Planet Earth: International Space Year, 1992' from UN Chronicle, December 1992.

All the International Years proclaimed by the General Assembly.



Stamp catalogue


Ciskei                                4 June 1992

Netherlands Antilles             28 October 1992









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last revised: 7 June 2008