Reflections from the International Astronautical Congress 2014 in Toronto - Friday
The last day of the Congress, we began with a fascinating Late Breaking News section on the selection of location for the landing of Philae module of Rosetta probe on the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet and on whole landing maneuver that will take around seven hours and is planned on 12 November 2014. It was followed by a lecture on recent Mars orbit entering of first Indian probe. Onboard the Mangalyaan probe, there are five scientific instruments for surface monitoring in the visible and infrared spectrum, chemical composition of the atmosphere including methane content and mechanisms of loss of water molecules from the surface of the red planet. The third event was a presentation on former American astronauts initiative to support small satellites construction by students, that is the theme that permeates Congress every year more and more often.
During the second half of Congress, there were a lot of children in the exhibition which was very pleasant condition. For them, a funny program with physical experiments was prepared by the German Space Agency DLR and the local organizers built for the children a special access path. The last day, the Congress was traditionally opened to the public, and the exhibition was visited by several dozens of local residents, including Czech immigrants. On Friday, the number of children groups of school classes and their teachers also increased. The organizers prepared for them a lot experiments and games in the student zone. The children's program moderation, which was sometimes heard throughout the exhibition, took enthusiastic worker from the NASA Education Department, Carolyn Knowles.
This morning, the draw lots at our booth also have taken place and the winner have gotten a model of Lynx vehicle of XCOR Aerospace company. The lucky one was Mr. Shigeki Kamigaichi, director of public communications of Japanese Space Agency, JAXA. This man also promised us to promote Humans in Space Symposium 2015 in Japan, which we organize together with the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in June 2015.
At this year's exhibition, surprised us the missing European Space Agency (ESA) booth, despite the fact that Canada is affiliated ESA member state. The reason was supposedly the high cost of participation at this year's ILA Berlin fair. However, the Congress was attended by a lot of people from ESA that participated in many pre-arranged bilateral meetings with delegates from other space agencies and industrial companies.
"In terms of organization, we evaluate this year's Congress as well prepared. The exception was a significant technical problem with connecting to local wi-fi, without which the Comgress can not run well. And, as already indicated in reports from previous days, uncomfortable were also the local prices of food and beverage at the exhibition, common services such as printing one page A4, for which the organizers demanded 5 CAD (a little less than 100 CZK)," says Josef Šobra of Czech Space Office.
Friday's agenda included also the second session of the General Assembly of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). As well as on Monday, the CSO was represented by Michal Václavík. Right at the opening session, Jan Kolář, director of the CSO and IAF vice president summed up the financial situation of the Federation and presented the perspectives for the next five years. An important point, was the evaluation of the ending Congress. "On the 65th IAC in Toronto, there were sent 3,585 abstracts of which 2,361 were accepted. They were presented in the form of professional presentations or posters. At the accompanying exhibition, there have presented 148 exhibitors on the area of nearly 10,000 square meters, which is almost half more than in the previous year. In total, the Congress was attended by 3,407 experts, but the real number of visitors would be higher, because of schoolchildren and the general public," says Michal Václavík. At the General Assembly, there was also introduced the preparation process of 66th IAC in Jerusalem and 67th IAC in Guadalajara.
The smooth proceeding was interrupted by the decision that the host city selection for Congress in 2017 wasn't made by consensus, but was decided by poll. Finally, 59 % of present IAF members turned to a recommendation of the selection committee and chose the Australian Adelaide, which will host the 68th International Astronautical Congress during 25th and 29th September 2017. Right after the annoucement of results, prof. Claus Lämmerzahl of the local organizing team of one of the strong rivals of Australia, Bremen, Germany spoke. Professor Lämmerzahl congratulated the winners and said that they are going to compete again on the organization of IAC in 2018. Much more outraged were the members of the Turkish organizing team, who tryied to win the competition unsuccessfully for the third time. The last important point was the election of the President and members of the Executive Committee. The presidency was defended by current president Kiyoshi Higuchi and also the approval of vice president went smoothly. Jan Kolář continues in his role of IAF VP for financial issues in the second election season.
International Astronautical Congress is traditionally ended with closing ceremony, which consisted of a short film summarizing the entire IAC. The film was followed by long range of awards to both young and deserving scientists and experts. "Unlike the opening ceremony, the final one was carried out in more intimate atmosphere. During the awards, there was professor Vladimír Kopal in memoriam introduced into the IAF Hall of Fame. He passed away in January 2014 and he devoted his entire life to cosmic law, its promotion and he worked in many international organizations including the UN and IAF," says Michal Kuneš from CSO to the end of the Congress. The last point of the program was the handover of IAF flag to organizers of the next Congress in Jerusalem.