Among COSPAR's objectives are the promotion of scientific research in space on an international level, with emphasis on the free exchange of results, information, and opinions, and providing a forum, open to all scientists, for the discussion of problems that may affect space research. These objectives are achieved through the organization of symposia, publication, and other means. COSPAR has created a number of research programmes on different topics, a few in cooperation with other scientific Unions.
The long-term project COSPAR international reference atmosphere started in 1960; since then it has produced several editions of the high-atmosphere code CIRA. The code "IRI" of the URSI-COSPAR working group on the International Reference Ionosphere was first edited in 1978 and is yearly updated.
Every second year, COSPAR calls for a General Assembly (also called Scientific Assembly). These are conferences currently gathering more than a thousand participating space researchers. The most recent assemblies are listed in the table below. The 41st General Assembly in Istanbul was cancelled due to the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt.