Space at the Farnborough Air Show
The future of space exploration was very much in the forefront at the International Space Pavilion during the UK's Farnborough Air Show, taking place from 19 - 25 July.
The European Space Agency presented its programmes in an exhibition and in a series of events in this new initiative that drew together key players in the space world. The space pavilion was well attended by professionals, press, dignitaries, industry and public during trade days and at the weekend.
The ESA exhibit focused on current missions to the Solar System, the European satellite navigation system Galileo, current and future Earth observation missions, the Ariane 5 and Vega launchers, human spaceflight and the recent Delta mission to the International Space Station with Dutch astronaut André Kuipers.
Main attractions included a model of the Galileo navigation system, results from ESA’s environmental satellite Envisat, a slide show of stunning Mars Express results and a presentation of the highly topical Cassini-Huygens mission. An event was dedicated to the latter on Tuesday 20 July with ESA Huygens mission manager Jean-Pierre Lebreton and Dennis Matson, Cassini Project Scientist, JPL.
A cinema area showed stereovision films of Galileo, Envisat, European missions to the Solar System, and the European elements of the International Space Station.
The Scorpion and Nanokhod technology demonstrators and a moving scale model of the ExoMars mission featured prominently on a Martian ‘terrain’, introducing European goals for future planetary exploration.
Exploration was the theme of the dedicated 'Space Day' at the Air Show on Wednesday 21 July. A packed audience of press, space agency representatives, parliamentarians, academia and industry attended a lively press conference with Lord Sainsbury, UK Minister for Science, Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA DG and Rear Admiral Craig Steidle (Ret.) Associate Administrator for NASA's Office of Exploration Systems. All speakers underlined the importance of international cooperation to face the challenge of space exploration in the future years.
This was followed by a keynote UK-led seminar on robotic planetary exploration, organised by the UK Industrial Space Committee with David Southwood, ESA Director of Science on the panel of experts. A stimulating discussion ensued, reflecting the enthusiasm and commitment of UK industry and scientific institutes to future space exploration and the Aurora programme.
ESA DG Jean-Jacques Dordain participated in a high level Space and Security Workshop and Steen Hougs from ESA’s Navigation Department attended a Round Table on Galileo organised by UKISC and chaired by the Right Honourable Ian Taylor, former UK Science Minister.
Other highlights in the week were presentations of ESA’s Envisat and Cryosat Earth observation missions, a careers seminar for UK post-graduate level students including the UK Students for Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).
ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy recounted his experiences in space on Friday 23 July and was at the show over the public weekend involved in presentations, informal discussions and space quizzes and games for the public.
A competition was run by the National Space Centre in Leicester and the winner will be drawn in late August – the first prize being a trip for two to the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.