The 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC), the world’s premier space event held in the Middle East for the first time, came to an end with a closing ceremony on Friday.
More than 6,500 space enthusiasts and participants from over 110 countries attended the 5-day event filled with events, meetings, collaborations, announcements, updates and more, under the theme “Inspire, Innovate & Discover for the Benefit of Mankind”.
IAC 2021 began on October 25, with a grand opening ceremony attended by delegates, heads of space agencies, members of parliament and exhibitors from around the world along with astronauts and cosmonauts from the UAE, Russia and the US, Emirates news agency WAM reported.
IAC 2021 also featured an extensive plenary program, including technical presentations, panel discussion and bilateral meetings. The event saw the participation of astronauts/cosmonauts from the UAE, Russia and the US, and featured an open day for the general public along that was attended by 16 local school and universities. Furthermore, the IAC Exhibition featured over 90 exhibitors from around the world, with 46 entities participating for the very first time.
MBRSC announced partnerships with Thales Alenia Space, Airbus, SpaceX, UNOOSA, ESA and further provided updates on the MBZ-SAT project, through which the Centre has actively engaged with regional companies in the effort to build a local hub for space-related manufacturers. The Centre also had a live session with the UAE Analog Mission#1 CrewONE members, explaining the 8-month analog mission, that will be conducted at the NEK ground-based analogue facility in Moscow, Russia beginning 4th November 2021.
Various international entities also announced partnerships at the event. Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Space and along with other partners announced the plan to build a commercial off-Earth outpost called Orbital Reef, which is scheduled to be up and running by the late 2020s. Meanwhile the UAE’s Edge Group has signed an MoU with the US-based Lockheed Martin, a global technology leader, to identify industrial partnership opportunities across the UAE's aerospace and defense sector.
Lockheed Martin and Nanoracks had also announced their intent to build a space station called “Starlab”. During the event, various countries also announced ventures and collaborations, including the Polish Space Agency signed NASA’s Artemis Accords, to join a growing list of signees dedicated to collaborating on establishing a peaceful and safe exploration of the Moon.
Meanwhile, the comprehensive technical program at IAC 2021 offered a rich plenary program, thoroughly selected by the IAC International Program Committee Steering Group. The program included 183 technical sessions with 1,442 registered speakers, 18 special sessions, 12 symposium keynotes and over 150 interactive presentations.
Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director-General, MBRSC said: “We are proud to have hosted the first ever International Astronautical Congress in the Arab world, right here in Dubai. Working together hand-in-hand, with openness, respect and tolerance for diverse views, this year's edition has not just been enlightening but also fostered leadership, creativity and interdisciplinary global collaboration and partnerships in the space sector. As we continue to build on the ideas that have been shared at this year's edition, the UAE will continue to strengthen the future of the space sector for the good of humankind.”
Salem Al Marri, Deputy Director-General, MBRSC and IAC 2021 Local Organizing Committee Chair said: “As we close the curtains on the first ever International Astronautical Congress in the Arab region, we can agree that over the past five days, we have witnessed enlightened conversations and competing thoughts, focused on our collective goal of making the space industry more inclusive, robust and responsive to the present needs and future aspiration of humanity. I am sure that discussion and exchange of ideas will not end here, but I am delighted that we have provided an opportunity for these conversations to take place. We wish the host city of Paris all the very best for the next edition and we thank everyone of being part of this amazing event.”