Flight Path

IAC 2019: See you in Washington, D.C.!


From 21–25 October 2019, Washington, D.C., will become the center of the global space community as AIAA hosts the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

Last month, at IAC 2018 in Bremen, Germany, the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) flag was passed to the three of us, representing AIAA and the IAC 2019 Local Organizing Committee (LOC). At the closing ceremony, we invited the world to join us in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing—the “one giant leap for mankind” that thrilled the world.

The IAC 2019 theme, “Space: The Power of the Past, the Promise of the Future,” reflects how the first human footsteps on the moon inspired the global community to engage in space in increasingly collaborative ways. The theme also reflects the momentum that has been building in the space community with plans to expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit, to the moon and beyond. The Congress will bring together people from all over the world who have been, are, and will be involved in some of the most pivotal space endeavors past, present, and future. Among those in attendance will be international technical experts, scientists, thought leaders, and decision makers who are responsible for the biggest space-related breakthroughs and accomplishments of our day—including those who are on the brink of that next giant leap.

IAC 2019 provides a distinct opportunity for organizations and corporations to highlight capabilities, advancements, and leadership to a wide audience, including domestic policymakers. For many who cannot easily travel internationally, the location of the Congress means that professionals, officials, start-ups, and students who usually don’t attend will be able to experience the event and engage firsthand with the international space community.

The Congress will highlight the evolutionary role that international partnerships and cooperation have and will play in exploration, scientific discovery, and research and development. Although the Apollo lunar landing was the result of a space race between two nations, space exploration today is an internationally collaborative effort. Technological and diplomatic achievements—including the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, MIR, the International Space Station, New Horizons, Rosetta, and the Chandrayaan missions—are brought about by international collaboration among NASA, ESA, JAXA, Roscomos, the China National Space Administration, and the Indian Space Research Organization, along with numerous other national space agencies and industry and academia around the globe.

With new partnerships between governments as well as between governments and industry partners, the space sector is experiencing a burst of growth and creativity. IAC 2019 provides a platform for discussions of new collaborations, current and future global programs, and policy and legal implications. In addition, the Congress will convene the international space community to discuss emerging topics such as the increasingly active industrial sector, with its new economic and business models, and key technical and policy issues such as space traffic management and space law and the importance of international standards of behavior.

Space exploration, technology, and utilization have improved the economic well-being, educational level, and quality of life for billions on our planet. To accomplish all that is needed for space exploration, creating and fostering a space economy, and building a better future for the global community for the next 50 years, we must increase the number and diversity of people pursuing aerospace-related careers. The Congress provides another excellent opportunity to inspire students’ passion for space and STEM-related fields to help ensure a robust future workforce.

Hard work—and tough lessons—have led us to where we are today and we’re not stopping! It’s easy to imagine humans living, working, and playing in space in the next 50 years. Greater access to space means that soon people other than professional, government-trained astronauts will be able to travel off the planet to experience our world in a life-changing way. New businesses, markets, and services will be created to meet the expanded activity that will continue to evolve in low Earth orbit and beyond. The future in space is exciting!

IAC 2019 will celebrate the amazing achievements of the last 50 years and will point us unerringly at the future and the next 50 years as we imagine how many exciting accomplishments await. As host, AIAA, with the support of our anchor sponsor Lockheed Martin Corporation and our other sponsors, is committed to building awareness and telling the compelling story of all the innovative and inspiring things happening across the space community. As we invite the world to Washington, D.C., next October, we hope you will join us! ★

— AIAA Executive Director Daniel Dumbacher and IAC 2019 LOC Co-Chairs Vincent Boles and Sandra Magnus

IAC 2019: See you in Washington, D.C.!