IAC 2022: A Space Gathering Beyond all Expectations

The IAF President, Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund at the IAC 2022

This week, the organisers of the world’s largest space congress – the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) – proved their worth by gathering more than 9,300 delegates from 110 countries on the occasion of the 73rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

Together with the host organisation, the French Space Agency, CNES, the IAF – the world’s leading space advocacy body – broke every record. After the first IAC, which gathered ten delegates in 1950 in Paris, 72 years later, in the same city, the event had been beyond expectations. 

The record-breaking number of delegates gives a taste of space’s bright future. The next generation’s strong presence, representing 45% of the congress participants, is inspirational. In addition to the impressive number of delegates, the vow to produce the first environmentally sustainable IAC was kept. As a result, the congress successfully met the “responsible event” standards and received its International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certification. 

The IAC 2022 official opening day clearly set the tone for a successful event. French Prime Minister Ms Elizabeth Borne announced a budget of EUR 9 billion for the French space sector over the next three years.

French Prime Minister Ms Elizabeth Borne at the IAC 2022. Source: IAC

Throughout the week, more than 3,000 papers were presented. Among them were 800 innovative interactive presentations. In addition, 25 GNF sessions and 19 Special Sessions were well attended. Ten plenaries and Highlight lectures covered the most exciting topics of the year, including two Late Breaking News sessions on the DART Mission and the James Webb Space Telescope MIRI Instrument. On Wednesday, 21, more than 2,200 delegates were present for the Public Day. Among them was French Astronaut Thomas Pesquet who met with and inspired the young generation. 

French astronaut, Thomas Gautier Pesquet [middle] during the Public Day at IAC 2022.

An impressive exhibition welcomed 250 exhibitors on more than 8,000 square metres. The IAF membership was propelled to 468, with the addition of 45 new members approved at the IAF Generation Assembly. Four additional countries are now part of the IAF Family: Greece, Iceland, Monaco, and Rwanda. In addition, Sydney (Australia) was selected as Host City for the IAC 2025 and four new IAF Vice Presidents were elected: Ms Mishaal Ashemimry, Mr Anil Kumar, Ms Tanja Masson-Zwaan and Ms Pilar Zamora. 

In summary, the IAC 2022 exceeded all expectations and represented an exceptional venue for exchanges, commemoration and international cooperation.

The global space community now looks ahead to next year’s IAC, which will take place from 2 – 6 October 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan, the pearl of the Caucasus, home to a stunning mix of landscapes, culture and innovation.