World Space Congress 2002 Comes to Successful Close

Press Release From: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2002

World Space Congress draws more than 20,000 total participants

HOUSTON - After 10 days of hundreds of technical sessions, exhibits, conferences and educational programs, the World Space Congress . 2002 (WSC . 2002) came to a close on Oct. 19. Billed as the largest scientific, technical and space exhibition event ever, Congress organizers announced the once-in-a-decade was a huge success based on the overall collaboration, exchange of information and public outreach held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas and supported by venues at the University of Houston campus.

Themed "The New Face of Space", WSC . 2002 was comprised of numerous events and activities designed to fulfill many missions. More than 20,000 people participated in the multitude of Congress components, including the 34th Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), the 53rd International Astronautical Congress, the International Space Trade Exhibition and the education outreach programs.

More than 4,000 delegates of COSPAR, the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), Space Ops and other organizations participated in the Congress and numerous associated events. Experts showcased cutting-edge science, engineering and technology research through more than 450 technical sessions hosted by COSPAR and the IAF. Topics included science, technology, infrastructure, missions and exploration, business and applications, legal and policy factors, education and history.

The SpaceOps 2002 Conference, held Oct. 9-12, gathered participants from all around the world, who discussed state-of-the-art operations principles, methods and tools for entities involved in space mission operations and ground data systems. The organizers were pleased that 50 percent of the technical papers were presented by delegates from other countries outside the U.S. One theme that emerged from the conference was the importance of outlining standards that will encourage nations to work together and share resources. The next SpaceOps Conference will be hosted by the Canadian Space Agency in Montreal in June 2004.

"This Congress facilitated important discussions between scientific researchers to those in the engineering world," said Mike Lewis, project leader of the WSC . 2002 and head of corporate communications for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). "It's this critical dialogue and collaboration within the space community that will convey more effective earth-based applications for society in the future."

The International Trade Exhibition engaged a total of 3,150 exhibitors from 350 companies and organizations, serving as the largest exhibition ever for the space industry. The 350,000-square-foot exhibition that featured a combined large country industry/agency pavilion presence from Japan, United Kingdom, China, Germany, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Holland, France, Poland, etc., with industry representation from Canada and the U.S. that attracted more than 7,000 people during the trade and public days. The exhibition also featured what many believed to be the largest NASA exhibit ever, with representation from all NASA field centers from across the country.

The University of Houston played host to several education outreach events that drew more than 6,000 students. The education programs were designed to instill excitement in children for math, science and technology, as well as to equip educators with the tools they need to develop and enhance curriculum that will positively impact the world's students. Highlights included the Mars Rover competition, Space Rocks! Kids Festival, FIRST/BEST robotics demonstrations and FIRST LEGOR League Exhibition. The Mars Rover competition featured more than 40 entries of inert models designed and constructed by primary and middle school students.

The festival featured interactive learning exhibits, astronaut autograph signings and more. "The mission of the 2002 Congress has always been about outreach beyond the technical core," said Lewis. "The breadth and depth of all the activities allowed us to demonstrate to other industries and the public at large the numerous beneficial applications of space technology and research. More importantly, we want to excite a new generation about the opportunities within the varied space fields."

Other milestone events were planned on the occasion of the WSC . 2002, because of the large gathering of international space leaders. Over 20 key International Space Station partner agency officials were invited by the Texas Secretary of State, Gwen Shea, for an in-depth tour and briefing of the NASA Johnson Space Center. This marked the first opportunity for many of these international leaders to have a full tour of NASA-JSC and a briefing by JSC senior management.

The 2002 Congress also marked the debut of the first-ever event Space Policy Summit, hosted by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University on Oct. 10-12. This private forum offered a valuable opportunity for 39 international leaders from government and industry of 16 nations to have open and frank discussions in three main sessions: commercial space activities, space exploration and space applications. The Summit participants identified key policies and initiatives aimed at bringing the benefits of space activities to humanity, while eliminating the obstacles that inhibit taking full advantage of these benefits. Issues that emerged from the Summit included: the importance of cooperation in space to expand relationships between nations; the need to make the public more aware of the benefits of space activities; and the ability to use space to inspire youth to study math and science, which will have long-term workforce benefits.

WSC . 2002 was hosted and organized by AIAA under the auspices of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The event took place Oct. 10-19 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. For more information about WSC . 2002, visit

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