The 63rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Naples, Italy, got underway on today (Monday, 1 October 2012) with a record delegate attendance of almost 4,000 people.
IAF President Berndt Feuerbacher, speaking at the morning’s Prologue meeting in Mostra d’Oltremare, the Congress venue, said he was also delighted to announce that a third of the new record attendance was comprised of young people.
Prof Feuerbacher said this was the fourth IAC to be held in Italy which is one of the leading European space nations and plays a key role in the international space arena.
The IAC, themed ‘Space science and technology for the needs of all’, is the premier international gathering of the space community and this year will see the presentation of 2,200 science and technical papers by delegates from 74 different countries at 166 technical seminars and 30 symposia.
Enrico Saggese, President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), also joined in the welcome and offered delegates a brief summary of Italy’s significant achievements and current involvement in the world’s space programmes.
"We will continue to make a significant contribution to the exploration of space," he said whilst emphasising how important it is to maintain the continued support of young people.
Luigi De Magistris, Mayor of Naples, offered a welcome on behalf of the city. "As you think and reflect about the future of the space industry in the coming days, I hope that the city of Naples will be an inspiration to all of you," he said.
The IAC Prologue also included messages from Luigi Cesaro, President of Naples Province, and Stefano Caldoro, President of the Campania Region, along with a presentation from Maurizio Maddaloni, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Naples, and Riccardo Monti, President of the Italian Agency for the promotion and internationalisation of Italian business (ICE).
Mr Monti said future IAC’s would grow to be even larger as more and more countries participated and he urged delegates to consider carefully the decisions of the future, saying that the space industry needed a clear blueprint that would carry things forward for the coming two decades.
The Prologue meeting concluded with a short message from Francesco Profumo, Italy’s Minister of Education, University and Research, and President of ESA Ministerial Council.
Part of the annual IAC is a Space Expo exhibition which this year attracted around 50 exhibitors from space companies and organisations all over the world.
The exhibition was formally opened by the European, Japanese and Canadian Heads of Agencies, heads of leading industry corporations and Prof. Feuerbacher, along with other VIP guests.
After a short tour of some of the key exhibitors - including ESA, the Italian Space Agency, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and representatives from China, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Israel, Romania, Australia and the United States - they went on to formally open the IAF Global Networking Forum (GNF).
The GNF - with the vision to ‘meet, share and connect’ - is an evolution of the IAF Cluster Forum, transformed to further reinforce the networking and knowledge-sharing which have always defined it and bring an even wider and more global audience together.
The IAC runs throughout the week until Friday (5 October) and the Space Expo exhibition will also be open to the public between 10 am and 5 pm on Friday.
The above is one of a series of daily reports from the International Astronautical Congress 2012 held in Naples, Italy, written by Clive Simpson for the Paris-based International Astronautical Association (IAF) and first appearing on the IAF website