T.S. Subramanian

Global event on the theme `Touching Humanity: Space for Improving the Quality of Life'

CHENNAI: India will host the 58th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), a significant global event in the field, in Hyderabad from September 24 to 28, 2007. There will be about 1,200 delegates from 60 countries, 300 of them from India. They will include heads, top rocket engineers, space scientists and astronauts and cosmonauts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency Roskosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Chinese National Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA, the French Space Agency CNES, and the Canadian Space Agency.

"It is significant that this global event is being held in India during the 50th anniversary of the launching of Sputnik," said G. Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The space era began when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite about the size of a basketball and weighing about 83 kg, on October 4, 1957.

The theme of the congress is `Touching Humanity: Space for Improving the Quality of Life.' The venue will be the Hyderabad International Convention Centre. The three major organisers are the International Astronautical Federation, the International Academy of Astronautics and the International Institute of Space Law. The Astronautical Society of India along with ISRO will host it.

B.N. Suresh, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, is the co-chairman of the international congress committee and chairman of the national planning committee. He said India hosting the event was significant on three counts: the year marked the 50th anniversary of the launching of Sputnik; it was the 40th year of signing of the International Space Treaty in the U.N. on the use of outer space for peaceful purposes; it was the 50th International Geophysical Year.

A highlight of the congress will be an international space exhibition in which industry players from countries such as the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, Canada, those from Europe will exhibit their products. "There will be a large participation by the Indian aerospace industry to showcase their advancement and capability to the global aerospace community," Dr. Suresh said.

This is the second time that India is hosting the IAC: the 39th IAC was held at Bangalore in 1988.