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IAC 2014 - Day One

Reflections from the International Astronautical Congress 2014 in Toronto - Monday

The first day of the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto has begun. We are about to finish construction of our booth, ahead lies the opening ceremony and the first rush of visitors, which we look forward most. Lost suitcases and boxes fortunately arrived on Sunday. The exhibition was officially opened by ribbon cutting at noon. Compared to previous years, we were surprised by the relatively poor first day attendance. "We can only guess the real reason, but one of them is probably exceptionally high prices of services in both, the city and Canada in general and in the Congress," says Josef Šobra from CSO.

As each IAC, also the Canadian has started with the opening ceremony, that introduced the importance and benefits of Congress in the broader social light and also introduced the host country. Two active Canadian astronauts Jeremy R. Hansen and David Saint-Jacques undertook the ceremony moderation. They gained the audience immediately thanks to their sence of humor. During the opening ceremony the artists from Cirque du Soleil also have performed. Its founder and space tourist who traveled to the International Space Station, Guy Laliberté, greeted the audience through a pre-recorded video. The main star was retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who became world popular thanks to amazing use of social networks to promote the astronautics. His message was clear and concise. Man has always been eager for knowledge and the adventurous expeditions to the far-flung corners of the planet are an integral part of our society. These days, the expeditions were given another dimension, upwards - into space.

This year, the CSO booth has a brand new design that is focused on communication of major CSO activities and services to the professional and general public. As part of the exhibition booth there are several pieces of products of Czech institutions, which number has grown considerably this year. Total of nine organizations have used our offer to expose their products. Centre of Special Optics TOPTEC from Turnov has provided the ion beam polished mandrel for X-ray optics, the company Maxmechanik from Rožnov pod Radhoštěm provided precisely machined parts from aluminum alloys for the ESA Solar Orbiter probe. G.L. Elektronic company from Brno has sent us the examples of the power and data cables for small satellites.

Considerable interest arouse the instrument of the Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics, CTU that had provided a functional unit of radiation detector based on Medipix. The detector that we have connected to a laptop, displays  on the monitor real-time traces of the impact of particles on the detector. Similar detectors has been used for the experiment of Czech students and it also serves on the International Space Station (ISS). And to stay at topic of radiation detection a little bit longer, the Nuclear Physics Institute of ASCR has presented passive dosimeters, which had been used within one ESA experiment to create a 3D model of distribution of cosmic rays inside the ISS.

The exhibition includes also the Czech universities. University of West Bohemia in Pilsen provided a sample of board computer and solar panels for CubSat named PilsenCUBE. Another exhibit, which attracted considerable interest, mainly of teachers, is the functional model of stabilization principle using satellite gyroscopes, that has provided Pavel Pačes from Faculty of Electrical Engineering, CTU. An example of secondary school projects is CanSat from Secondary Technical School of Electrical Engineering in Prague, which had attended a competition in ESA Andøya Space Center in Norway with it.

The CSO presence at IAC is not focused on Congress exhibition only. Our employees are involved in a variety of scientific and technical advisory committees. At the meeting of a joint group of IAA and IAF in the field of life sciences, we have presented the progress in the preparation of the international conference 20th IAA Humans in Space Symposium 2015 in Prague. At the Congress, it has been managed to negotiate the form of the Scientific Committee and other issues related to the scientific content of the symposium.

CSO has also honestly fulfill its role of a full member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and it has participated in the first session of the General Assembly, CSO director Jan Kolář in the role of Vice President of IAF and CSO member Michal Václavík as a representative of the office. In addition to general requirements related to the activities of the Federation members, there have been four candidates for hosting the IAC in 2017 presented. "In the game there is Adelaide od Australia, Bremen ofGermany, Istanbul od Turkey and Orlando of Florida. Presentation of candidates were successful and very powerfully encouraged to support the specific location. Therefore, it will be very difficult to to vote during Friday's meeting for only one of the proposals, "says Michal Václavík of CSO.