Second View


Written by: developer

by Space Foundation Senior Vice President – Strategic & International Affairs Steve Eisenhart

Our industry is best off when we are together. Literally and figuratively.

My view is that we are best off when we are working together in a collaborative fashion. Whether bi-laterally, multi-nationally or in industry partnerships, the combination of knowledge, skills and resources generally makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Efforts such as the International Space Station could not be undertaken if we were not together.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join together with the world space community at the 66th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) recently held in Jerusalem. There are several takeaways from being together with 2,000 space leaders, technicians, academics, students and professionals.

First, is that we were able to come together at all. Many questions had been raised prior to the Congress given recent tensions in Israel. But, I must applaud the Israel Space Agency which served the local organizing committee, and the International Astronomical Federation (IAF) for executing a successful and safe – albeit smaller than usual – Congress. The comments of appreciation by Menachem Kidron, Director of the Israel Space Agency, and the standing ovation he received at the General Assembly, spoke volumes about how the world can come together through space. Similarly, seeing the heads of the Roscosmos and the China National Space Administration on stage with NASA administrator Charlie Bolden highlighted not only challenges, but also opportunities.

The IAC has long been about technical exchange, and we saw that in the dialogs following papers presentations and interactive poster sessions, which brought together experts from around the globe. I saw it in the work of committees addressing education and public outreach through various organizations, museums and science centers worldwide. We look forward to working with partners on our own outreach and education efforts at our Space Foundation Discovery Center and abroad.

It was great to be together again with old friends such as Zhou JianPing of China Manned Space, who hosted us on our first visit to Beijing, and Jan Worner of ESA who was seemingly everywhere in Jerusalem. The IAF is certainly a reunion, of sorts. But one that renews and refreshes.

And I saw very striking togetherness in the multiple engagements with young professionals who seem most naturally collaborative, whether preparing a presentation on global entrepreneurship or socializing post-gala at a local pub.

In preparing remarks for a panel I was on for a pre-Congress Hosts Summit, I was struck by the alignment of our Space Foundation mission with that of the IAF. “Promoting cooperation, advancing international development, sharing knowledge, recognizing achievements, preparing the workforce of tomorrow and raising awareness” are all very much what we do here every day at the Space Foundation. It is a pleasure working with Christian Feichtinger and his talented staff at the IAF Secretariat as we pursue our common direction.

Our space community will soon have another opportunity to be together, this coming April at the 32nd Space Symposium. I look forward to welcoming all of my new and old friends and colleagues here in Colorado.


This article is part of Space Watch: November 2015 (Volume: 14, Issue: 11).