A special type of meeting: the IAA Heads of Space Agencies Summit
On 17 November 2011, the Heads of the world's Space Agencies met in Washington, D.C. on the 50th anniversary of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) to agree on a joint declaration, 'Space for Humanity', discuss related activities and possible future partnerships. The main meeting was chaired by Professor Walter Kröll, Former Chairman of the DLR Board for several years.
The IAA sees itself as an international community of leading space experts. Core activities are cooperation, the development of position papers on the future of space and scientific contributions to conferences such as the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). The common aim is to promote the development of space for peaceful purposes. Heads of Space Agencies from around the world were invited for the 50th anniversary; a total of 30 took up the invitation. It was a busy agenda (PDF), packed full of speeches, receptions, bilateral meetings, a workshop held by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group ISECG (at 6 am!) on the 'Global Exploration Roadmap', and working group discussions on the subjects of Human Spaceflight, Exploration, Climate Change and Disaster Management. The highlight was a panel discussion with all the attending Heads of Space Agencies.
Walter Kröll took on the task of moderating this round. The challenge was to let everyone have their say within the two hours, while keeping with the inherent structure, and without neglecting the right of each individual to participate. With the help of a stopwatch, Prof. Kröll gave everyone three minutes to put their ideas forward. As I already mentioned, the contributions were categorised into the main themes of Exploration, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Human Spaceflight. It was a perfect way for everyone to express their thoughts. A handful of invitees who couldn't attend either sent their contributions in writing for Prof. Kröll to read out, or recorded a video message.
Besides the many factually fascinating contributions, the two days were particularly important for cementing personal relationships, which are always important if special problems arise or if a specific partnership is desired. As has been the case for many previous events, the preparatory work carried out by DLR staff in Cologne, Bonn-Oberkassel and Washington was second to none.
Images: International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).