Landing in Paris, I was surprised to see cherry blossoms lining along the streets. Charles de Gaulle was busy as usual, if not even busier.
It started off with parallel meetings at the International Academy of Astronautics catching up on meetings and the latest developments over the year. Running parallel across the river was the Moon Village Association on their latest development and news.
As committee members from Space resource to space exploration, from human space flight to entrepreneurship, one could sense the International Aeronautical Federation and strong sense of community. The spring meeting was held at NewCap located a stone throw’s away from Eiffel Tower. It was a wonderful feeling, knowing full well the meeting was along the river.
Delegates entered through the door, greeted by IAF staff and most importantly bidding countries for the next IAC after UAE 2020. The Global Network Forum at the IAF was one of the highlights of the Spring Meeting. The focus was on Geography, Generation and Gender. Launched by the IAF President, Dr. Jean-Yves Le Gall the goal includes:
Geographical diversity and global reach have been traditional features of the IAF since its creation. Attracting the young generation has been in the focus of the IAF during the recent years with manifold newly created activities and programmes tuned to this target community. This has resulted in a significant increase of the number of young people engaged and participating in IAF activities. Gender diversity is still an area where strong progress needs to be achieved. Dedicated promotion of opportunities for female space actors within the Federation and the space sector in general, presenting successful role models and encouraging the young generation of the female space community to aim for leadership positions shall help to reach a balanced and inclusive representation within the governance of the IAF, its Technical and Administrative Committees, as well as the IAC speakers’ and authors’ community.
Implementing the “3G” Diversity Focus as part of the IAF Global Innovation Agenda 2016 – 2019 calls for the creation of an IAF Platform which will allow the Federation to take a leading role in the effort to promote and advance diversity and equality principles amongst a global space community, become an exemplary organisation in terms of geographical, generational, gender and any other diversity aspects, and live up to its motto Connecting @ll Space People.
IAF “3G” IDEA provides a framework for an intensive and open exchange on diversity and equality aspects within the IAF and amongst IAF member organisations as well as potential IAF members and other organisations promoting diversity. On the basis of IAF “3G” IDEA, events of different nature shall be organized during the annual International Astronautical Congress, IAF Global Conferences, IAF Spring Meetings and other occasions, focusing on “3G” diversity topics. Such events can be, but are not limited to:
- Keynotes or lectures
- Moderated panel discussions
- Networking events
- Mentoring sessions
- Social events
- “Diversity” Luncheons or Dinners
- Competitions and awards ceremonies
Focus of these events shall be to contribute to:
Focus of these events shall be to contribute to:
- Connecting and engaging space communities in remote areas to IAF activities;
- Further increasing the involvement of and the offer to the young generation within the Federation and its activities;
- Reviving the IAF mentoring programme;
- Attracting specifically the female space community to become active and take over leadership within IAF bodies;
- Providing an international platform to connect gender diversity organisations from different countries, such as WIA US, WIA Europe, WIA Canada, WIA Africa, WIA Japan, etc.
- Establishing IAF focus on all diversity aspects and promoting diversity as a basic principle to the entire global space community.
One certainly felt the presence of GNF events and increasing importance also at the Annual IAC conferences. As the IAC2019 would be in DC, there is much anticipation and excitement as it is the 50 years since the Apollo landing.
Once again as a space conference of the greatest breath and depth, the organisers announced that it had the largest number of submitted abstracts well into the 4000s and over 80 plenaries were proposed for 6 slots.
For the upcoming days, particularly on the last day it would be a great challenge for Chairs of committees to select papers for DC. Due to the considerably high numbers of submissions for oral submissions, it has indirectly also resulted in larger number of interactive submissions. What that has caused is almost like a second round of selections, particularly in relation to interactive sessions. It’s important the those whom submit abstracts understand this, because on the contrary to belief, submitting for an interactive session could actually be slightly harder to get accepting, depending on the kind of committee and what the potential category the author submitted their abstract in.
Being part of the process as VP for the Enterprise Risk Management Committee and as Rapporteur for the Space Resources Technologies, Systems, Missions and Policies Committee one can see how the process is not straight forward, particularly as Chairs assess which papers get accepted, put forward for interactive sessions or rejected.
There is an art to this kind of selection. As committee members we sit, discuss and engage in the topics of what is written in the abstract, what is mentioned, what is left out, what needs more work. It is in fact, rather academic, with a healthy dose of practicality as well.
One of the greatest joys in being part of this process is to engage with colleagues from different walks of life, countries and backgrounds in discussing abstracts of mutual interest. For instance, when we discuss risk management, we ask our selves, what is it? What does it mean? How do they access it? What process do they talk to avoid it? Are there contradictions? How can risk managers make better decisions?
The few days flew by, with a few individuals recognised for their achievements, with visions from leaders from various space agencies and also looking forward to UAE2020.
DC is going be great – if we were to access solely based on the abstracts submitted. Even if it’s not that, the fact that the IAC is going to be held in Washington DC is a highlight unto itself. Somehow it seems so appropriate to celebrate 50 years of space in the US. Indirectly we are celebrating the work of NASA and all space agencies or countries whom have contributed to space. Directly, it is about celebration of space and throughout the year we can look forward to events, seminars and upcoming publications on celebrating space.