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Reflections on IAC 2015

Czech Space Office has returned from the 66th International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem

Prague, 19th October 2015 – Czech Space Office (CSO) returned from the 66th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Jerusalem. It was the tenth time the CSO promoted Czech space on the international level, established new relationships and gather suggestions for international cooperation.

CSO was involved in activities of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), of which the director of the CSO holds the position of vicepresident. CSO also participated in organisation of Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). Michal Kuneš of CSO currently acts in SGAC as the national point of contact for the Czech Republic.

The motto of this year's congress IAC 2015 was "Space - the Gateway for Mankind's Future" and the toal number of registered participants was over 2100 and 10 of them were from the Czech Republic. Most visitors came from the United States (310), Germany (237) and Israel (186). The accompanying industrial exhibition took place on an area of almost 4,000 m2, where had its own booth 103 workplaces. Novelty of this years was the bilateral meetings of which 250 were organised. 

The congress was preceded by the Space Generation Congress (SGC) for students and young professionals that is beeing annualy organized by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). This congress was attended by four delegates from the Czech Republic and two of them were members of the organizing team: Michal Kuneš was in charge of coordinating competitions and scholarships and Jan Svoboda serve as congress manager. Another two Czech delegates were Marek Novák who won the Czech Space Competition and Jan Kolmaš who got the SSPI scholarship.Space Generation Congress went from the perspective of the Czech Republic very well and I am glad for that. The Czech Republic is currently one of the most active countries of SGAC. What helped very much was the establishment of the Czech Space Network, which brings together the Czech students and young professionals interested in space and allows the dissemination of information about new opportunities," commented Michal Kuneš.

NASA as well as ESA didn't have its booth at the congress exhibition this year. Both, however, were represented by individual delegates. Very obvious was the presence of Asian companies and agencies from China, South Korea and Japan. Israeli space industry was represented by several larger companies mostly of military and aviation focus. The participation of exhibitors from European countries correspond to the annual standard, but overall participation in the exhibition tended to be lower compared to previous years. CSO booth was visited by several companies from Israel and from other countries willing to cooperate with czech workplaces. Of the present exhibits the most interesting to the visitors was the compact radiation detector from the Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics CTU.

In the exhibition, the CSO led an interesting discussion about the possibilities of presentation of Czech workplaces on the portal serving for promotion of space products and services in the Chinese market. In addition, there was a discussion about the possible location of Czech scientific instruments on board the future of Chinese satellites.

Point of interest of this year's exhibition was the presence of small companies, focusing on the development of technology and small satellites for removing space debris from the orbit. Both companies managed to build (within a few years of existence) prototypes of satellites that will be launched next year. Also, the students presented their activities at their booths. Worth mentioning is the success of a team of five Israeli high schools, which stood behind the launch of the first CubeSat from the ISS and is preparing its second satellite.

During the IAC 2015, the CSO attended several meetings of the IAF, which is the main organizer of the congress. IAF this year has grown by 32 new members. Most new member organizations were from Europe, but there were also the first representative of their countries. IAF welcomed the first organization in Costa Rica, Singapore and North Korea. The last mentioned country caused a slight murmur in the plenary," explained Michal Václavík. During the week, disapproving responses to the adoption of the National Aerospace Development Administration in the DPRK (NADA) began to appear. „Representatives of the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) submitted documents proving the NADA is a cover name for the North Korean Committee of Space Technology that has been on the list of North Korean organizations under UN sanctions since 2013. Howerver the IAF General Assembly haven't reach an agreement on the next steps yet," said Jan Kolář, director of the CSO.

On the IAC 2015 there were also presented three candidates for the congress in 2018 - Bremen, Punta del Este and Vienna. The winner - Bremen, was elected the last day of the congress. „ Bremen and Vienna were assessed very positively. Both teams have experience with the organising of major international events and selected cities have an adequate infrastructure. Their surrounding area is also a place of number of space workplaces. Uruguayan Punta del Este can offer conference facilities for up to 2,800 that is enough for IAC, but the team is less experienced. Bremen came from the internal assessment as a clear winner. This decision was adopted by consensus and there was no need to vote," commented Michal Václavík.

The last day belonged to the traditional final ceremony where the flag was handed over to the new host of the IAC 2016 - the Mexican Guadalajara.