International Astronautical Congress IAC 2010
Prague became world centre of astronautics again after long 33 years, because between 27 September and 1 October 2010 hosted 61st International Astronautical Congress IAC. It brought more than three thousand experts from all over the world. Congress also attracted more than 2000 visitors from Czech general public and secondary schools together with universities. The Congress has grown throughout the years into a huge event, with exhibition and other associated events like UN/IAF Workshop or Space Generation Congress.
In Prague for the second time
The first International Astronautial Congress was held in 1950 in Paris, seven years before the first satellite ever was launched. The former Czechoslovakia hosted the Congress in 1977. Among the participants was famous writer and futurist sir Arthur C. Clarke or American scientist Charles S. Draper, who is considered to be father of inertial navigation - a discipline which is essential for any space endeavour.
|Fig. 1: Opening ceremony of IAC 2010. Credits: CSO|
Czech Republic, through Czech Space Office, stood as a candidate for IAC 2009 already in Valencia in 2006. Competitors were Chinese Shanghai and South Korean Daejeon, which was eventually successful. Czech Republic applied again a year later in Indian Hyderabad and prevailed over Tunis. Since then it was clear that International Astronautical Congress 2010 would take place in Prague. Jan Kolář, director of Czech Space Office which served as Local Organisor of the Congress, immediately afterwards the successful candidature commented: “Getting IAC in 2010 to Prague is great opportunity for the whole country to show to the remaining world that we are interested in Space and also to welcome recognized experts from the space community in our capital city. We perceive the hosting of IAC 2010 as one of the most important space events for Czech Republic in last decades, comparable to accession to ESA in 2008.” Motto of congress was chosen “Space for Human Benefit and Exploration“.
|Fig. 2: Ceremonial Opening of Exhibition. Credits: CSO|
Scientists from all over the world
International Astronautical Congress actually consists of two independent parts – exhibition and scientific congress. At the congress itself were presented over 1600 papers in sessions devoted e.g. to space life sciences, microgravity sciences and processes, space exploration, search for extraterrestrial intelligence, human exploration of the Moon and Mars, space debris, Earth observation, space communications and navigation together with its integrated applications, astrodynamics, space power, space transportation solutions and innovations, but also to Law of outer space or visions and strategies for far futures. Also Czech participants contributed with couple of presentations, focused e.g. on use of high sensitive electrostatic accelerometer for orbit perturbation effects investigation onboard LEO spacecraft, study of underwater station for training of astronauts, testing Raman spectroscopy for the trace analysis of biomarkers for Mars exobiological studies or Earth observation education in the Czech Republic. To complete the whole picture, one subsection was dedicated to history of contributions to astronautics of former Czechoslovakia.
|Fig. 3: Presentation of professor Jan Jehlička in section dedicated to Astrobiology. Credits: CSO|
Apart from above sessions also plenary ones were organised which were open to wider audience. The very first plenary was especially interesting, being attended by high officials of world space agencies – Charles Bolden (NASA administrator), Jean-Jacques Dordain (Director General of ESA), K Radhakrishnan (chairman of ISRO), Keiji Tachikawa (president of JAXA), Anatolij Perminov (head of Roscosmos) and Steve MacLean (president of CSA). They provided an overview of current programmes of respective agencies and insight into future plans and potential international opportunities. The last plenary should be mentioned too, as it was dedicated to Czech Space activities, especially to Czech Space Visions and Czech Republic´s growing involvement in European space endeavour.
It would not be thinkable without companies
As was already indicated above, indivisible part of IAC is the exhibition. Activities of main space companies dealing with space science and technology together with universities and national space agencies are presented there. More than 300 exhibitors arrived to Prague from all over the world, to build-up 50 stands with used area more than 1250 square meters. Thales Alenia Space, EADS Astrium, Surrey Satellite Technology or United Space Alliance were mong the exhibitors. Out of national space agencies, NASA, ESA or JAXA, but also Korea Aerospace Research Institute or Estonian Space Office were present too. We cannot forget to mention also stand of Czech Space Office, which informed about space activities in The Czech Republic. Exhibit materials like the backup flight model of the first Czechoslovak satellite Magion 1 could be seen there. The stand was visited by couple of hundreds visitors throughout the course of the congress.
|Fig. 4: Stand of Czech Space Office. Credits: CSO|
Representatives of academia but also delegates from developing countries
Two events became already an indivisible part of the congress even though they are taking place one week before the IAC. The first one is Workshop organised by United Nations and International Astronautical Federation, this time with theme „GNSS Applications for Human Benefit and Development“. Workshop was attended by considerable group of experts from developing countries, financially supported by organisers. Topics discussed were mainly current status and trends in GNSS systems, GNSS applications and services for sustainable development, capacity building and awareness activities in developing countries and presentations on practical experience and case studies.
|Fig. 5: Meeting of International Astronautical Academy. Credits: CSO|
The second event was International Academy Day organised by International Academy of Astronautics IAA, whose members are prominent world scientists from space-related fields. The event was hold in more ceremonial way than previous meetings as it commemorated 50 year anniversary of IAA. There are twelve members from Czech Republic and four from Slovakia.
With regard to number of visitors and positive responses expressed not only to Czech Space Office, the 61st International Astronautical Congress can be deemed as successful and hopefully will remain in minds of the visitors for a long time. Other information about IAC 2010 can be found at two websites www.iac2010.cz and www.iafastro.org. A short, three-minutes video showing all highlights of the Congress can be seen on http://vimeo.com/15440694. Photo gallery is available on http://www.flickr.com/photos/czechspace/collections/72157625167571028/.
|Fig. 6: Closing Ceremony: Local Organising Committee is being awarded by president of IAF Berndt Feuerbacher. Credits: CSO|