The 72nd International Astronautical Congress – IAC 2021 organized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and hosted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) was a resounding success and, as the first IAC in the Arab region, will certainly leave a lasting legacy.
Gathering more than 5000 delegates from 110 countries, and 1500 additional participants during the Public Day, the world’s premier global space event exceeded every expectations by putting together an incredible programme under the theme: ‘Inspire, Innovate and Discover for the Benefit of Humankind’. Despite the uncertainty due to Covid-19, the organizer of the Congress, the IAF, together with the host organization, MBRSC, forged ahead with their plan to hold the largest space gathering and to Connect @ll Space People in person. The IAC 2021 took place in Dubai with a large numbers of Plenaries, Technical and Special Sessions and IAF GNF panels, and an exhibition showcasing more than 90 companies.
Highlights of the Congress were, of course, the splendid Opening Ceremony, the traditional Heads of Agencies panel, a full day of industry-focused activities, many events involving international Astronauts and Cosmonauts, as well as all the activities and awards dedicated to the IAF 3-G diversity initiative. The IAC reconfirmed its pivotal role for the younger space generation, with a wide array of activities dedicated to them and around 50% of the reigstered delegates below the age of 35.
At the Congress, the IAF also awarded their prestigious IAF World Space Award to the Hayabusa 2 team and the newly established IAF Excellence in International Cooperation Award to Jean-Yves Le Gall, IAF Honorary Ambassador and Former President of the French Space Agency (CNES).
Establishing a new record, this year the IAF welcomed 50 new members. The IAF General Assembly selected Milan as Host City for IAC 2024, with the Italian Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics (A.I.D.A.A.), an IAF founding member, as Hosting Organization. In addition, Lisa Campbell, President of the Canadian Space Agency; Steven Eisenhart, Senior Vice President of the Space Foundation; Davide Petrillo, Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and Lionel Suchet, Chief Operating Officer at the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) were elected as IAF Vice Presidents. Lastly but most importantly, Clay Mowry, Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing & Customer Experience at Blue Origin was elected IAF Incoming President and will join forces with Pascale Ehrenfreund, current President of the Federation, during the next year before taking up the position at the end of next year’s IAC in Paris.
The space community now eagerly awaits for the 73rd IAC which will take place in Paris, France from 18 to 22 September 2022. And, with the theme “Space for @ll”, the IAC 2022 already sets the tone for what promises to be a momentous congress.