Monday, 13 October 2014

Canadian Autumn - SGC & IAC

Hello there! The last time I wrote a blog post I was in the middle of the US on what was the road trip of a life time - but more on that later :) Now that I'm back in London, I'm still recovering from an incredible 5 months in Canada. Having worked at the SSP14 and travelled around the continent, I spent my last 2 weeks in the land of maple syrup attending two very special space events. Get ready for a very  long (but picture-friendly) blog post!


This autumn, Toronto was home to two international space conferences  the 13th annual Space Generation Congress (SGC) and the 65th annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC). Having always wanted to attend, this year I finally managed to go and experience them for myself and share it with you in this post.

The SGC is an relatively young conference organised by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). This is a non-profit organisation which aims to give students and young professionals in the space industry a voice through which we can speak directly to the United Nations (UN), space agencies, industries and academia. 

I took part in the 'Ethics & Policy of New Human Space Exploration Strategies' Working Group. There were also the Working Groups of 'Entrepreneurship & it's Role in the Space Industry', 'On-Orbit Servicing', 'Cubesat Swarms' and 'Earth Observation for Maritime Services'.

As an SGAC member, I am able to attend the SGC and discuss key space issues alongside other young professionals and students in the space industry. It's a great way to network, collect ideas and trigger innovation. Projects produced here are then presented to the UN!

For the Closing Gala Dinner, NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charlie Bolden spoke to the next generation of space leaders in the unique setting of the Ontario Science Centre. As my first time at the conference, I met some wonderful people from across the world! Including NASA Associate Administrator for Education, Donald James. 

And it doesn't stop there.. 

The following week was the IAC, an international conference with over 3000 people. This year's theme was 'Our World Needs Space' - founded in 1951 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), I was lucky enough to attend as Accredited Press with  Space Safety Magazine*. 

 The IAC is known for its grand Opening Ceremony on the first day and this year was no exception. The Canadian-themed event was hosted by two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts David St-Jacques and Jeremy Hansen.

Canadian astronaut Cmdr Chris Hadfield provided a thought-provoking speech on human spaceflight and the nature of this innate human curiosity to explore the unknown. There were also performances from each province in the land, ice skaters, Cirque du Soleil as well as incredible singer-songwriter Peter Katz. He sang an inspiring song named 'Oliver's Tune' which beautifully reflected the message of the IAC. 


The main conference is comprised of technical talks given by some of the attendees on papers that have been submitted. This was a wonderful way to listen to our peers and hear where their passions lie. There were also plenary sessions such as the Space Industry Leaders Session which invited open questions from the audience to the heads of ESA, (CSA), JAXA and NASA

The final part of the IAC was an exhibition hall overflowing with space companies and organisations all willing to meet like-minded people and share information on the latest innovations in the industry. I even got to sit in the (extremely comfy) Tesla-designed seats for the Dragon 2 spacecraft by SpaceX and pretend to be an astronaut in the Russian Orlan spacesuit! 

All in all — both the SGC and IAC conferences were wonderful experiences meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends from across the globe. They're great ways to network and exchange ideas with other people that also want to somehow influence the future of space in some way or the other. 

Whether it be putting robots on Mars, satellites in orbit or humans on the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond — the SGC and IAC are the places to be. Sharing the same location annually, both conferences will convene in Jerusalem, Israel next year. 

See you there!


*I wrote an article about IAC 2014 for Space Safety Magazine here.

(CN Tower photo credits: Remco Timmermans)
(Donald James photo credits: Lauren Lyons)
(Two Group photo credits: SGAC & Tanay Sharma)

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