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58th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), India,September 24-28

India successfully hosted the 58th International Astronautical Congress (IAC-2007) from September 24 to 28, 2007 in Hyderabad. This annual event, which is one of the prestigious meets of the world's astronautical community, was organized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), and was hosted by the Astronautical Society of India (ASI) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The year 2007 is memorable in more than one way for the space community. It marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik 1 in 1957 that heralded the beginning of the Space Age, the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year, and also the 40th anniversary of the United Nations' Outer Space Treaty.

This weeklong congress had the theme of "Touching Humanity: Space for Improving the Quality of Life" in tune with India's significant achievements in space science and technology and their benefits to humankind.

Chief Minister Andhra Pradesh, Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, and Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Prithviraj Chauhan, addressed the gathering during the opening ceremony on Monday, September 24, 2007. Dr G Madhavan Nair, chairman of ISRO and president of ASI, and Dr BN Suresh, chairman of the local organizing committee, and the presidents of the IAF, IAA and IISL welcomed the delegates to this congress.

More than 2,100 delegates including accompanying persons participated in this weeklong congress. This included about 1,050 space professionals, 350 students, 130 young professionals, 180 journalists from print and electronic media and 100 exhibitors. A significant number of delegates from spacefaring nations including the USA, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, China, Canada, Italy and the UK participated in the congress

Most of the student delegates were sponsored by space agencies like NASA, ESA, CSA, JAXA and ISRO, wherein 58 students selected through nationwide competitions were sponsored by ISRO and ASI. Heads of the major space agencies of NASA, ESA, ISRO, CSA, JAXA, CNSA, CNES and FSA presented their achievements and future plans, and interacted with delegates in the first plenary event of the congress.

The other plenary events and highlight lectures deliberated on emerging areas in space science, and technology and applications, wherein invited speakers from all over the world addressed the delegates. Topics addressed during the plenary events and highlight lectures included: the 50th Anniversary of the Space Age and the International Geophysical Year; United Nations (UN) and Space?looking to the Second Half Century of Space Activities; Role of Government Procurements in the Space Market; Global Exploration Strategy & Future Lunar and Interplanetary Missions; New Space Industry Actors; Space Technology for Poverty Alleviation; Make Space for Health; International Space Station (ISS); Earth Threatening Asteroids; Future Directions for Space; and Earth Observation Systems in Asia. Ms Sunita Williams interacted with the delegates and shared her experience in ISS in one of the highlight lectures.

A space based telemedicine network was also demonstrated live to the congress delegates, wherein medical data of patients from a remote village in India were discussed by a famous Indian cardiologist with specialists in Austria.

More than 700 technical papers were presented in 125 technical sessions, which were conducted concurrently in 17 session halls. About 200 posters were displayed in the interactive session display area.

The congress was preceded by a workshop on "Space Technology for Sustainable Development: Towards Food Security" organized by the UN and IAF on the campus of the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and academy day events of IAA. The finals of the Moot Court Competition were also organized by IISL, at NALSAR Space Law University. The final was presided over by judges from the International Court of Justice.

International Space Exhibition 2007, displaying the latest in technology and products from various space agencies, entrepreneurs, industries and other organizations, was organized in conjunction with the congress, wherein more than 100 aerospace companies portrayed their products and services. With such a unique congregation of diverse stakeholders, the exhibition ensured a platform to enhance the business-to-business and business-to-customer links against the backdrop of the growing economic and development activities of this region. A business conclave program, comprising of sessions of contemporary interest to the space industry has attracted a favorable response from industry leaders and enhanced the value for exhibitors and participants.

The former president of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, made a special appearance in the congress, interacted with the student delegates and addressed the delegates. The first Indian cosmonaut, Mr Rakesh Sharma, and the first Chinese astronaut, Mr Yang Lewei, also attended the congress.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Space Age, a special publication in the form of a book titled "50 Years of Space: A Global Perspective" having chapters written by all the leading space agencies, was released during the congress and distributed to all the delegates.

The Logo of IAC 2007, depicting the theme "Touching Humanity: Space for Improving the Quality of Life"

Dignitaries lighting the lamp during the opening ceremony of IAC 2007

Dignitaries during the inauguration of the UN/IAF workshop at NRSA, Hyderabad

Ms Sunita Williams, Mr Rakesh Sharma (the first Indian cosmonaut) and Dr G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of ISRO and president of ASI, greeting the delegates.


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