On the 18th May, the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) hosted the first press conference in advance of the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which will take place in Dubai this October.
Held in-person at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and streamed live online, speakers included Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund and Dr. Christian Feichtinger, IAF President and Executive Director respectively, and from the MBRSC H.E. Yousuf Hamad Alshaibani, Director General, and Eng. Salem Almarri, Assistant Director General and Chair of IAC 2021 LOC.
Professor Ehrenfreund affirmed that IAC 2021 would be of ‘remarkable significance’ and a chance to shape the future of the space sector. Indeed, Almarri described the IAC as a ‘knowledge enrichment platform’ for young people, in the fields of space science and technology, which aligns with the theme of this year’s IAC: ‘Inspire, Innovate & Discover for the Benefit of Humankind’.
While stressing the event’s global nature, describing it as a chance to strengthen ties and enhance cooperation, both Alshaibani and Almarri highlighted the potential of the IAC as an accelerant of the space sector in the Arab world – IAC 2021 being the first time the Congress has been hosted by a country in the Middle East.
The speakers were keen to stress the in-person nature of the event, with Dr. Feichtinger confirming that the IAF does not foresee any need for remote participation. Dr. Feichtinger, in response to a question from the press, was also able to tease the possibility of some ‘space celebrities’ attending the Congress, namely Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, all of whom the IAF have contacted. Regardless of their presence, IAC 2021 is, as this first press conference made clear, sure to be an exciting and successful event.
If you are attending, do come along to the UK Pavilion, hosted by the BIS and the UK Space Agency. We will be announcing more about our own activities at the IAC in Dubai later in the year.