Students impress at the 2007 International Astronautical Congress in Hyderabad

Students at IAC 2007
2 October 2007

Last week the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) met in India for its annual conference. As a part of ESA Education’s Student Participation Programme, the Agency sponsored twenty-eight students to go to the conference and gain valuable experience presenting their own research to experts in the space and aerospace industry.

This is the second congress to be held in India and after the 39th IAC at Bangalore in 1988, the historic city of Hyderabad hosted the 58th Congress under the theme of "Touching Humanity: Space for improving quality of life".

There was lots of interest from students in sponsorship for this year’s congress. The students applied for sponsorship by submitting one of their research papers to the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). Together with the IAF, ESA specialists selected students for sponsorship based on the quality and subject matter of their submitted papers.

Students from Germany, Spain, Norway, The Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Greece, Hungary and Poland, were chosen for sponsorship.

The student papers encompassed a wide-range of subjects. Their research presentation titles included: Space-Borne Tsunami Warning System; Future of Surgical Robots in Space and Utilization of Extraterrestrial Resources amongst others, as well as a presentation by one of the YES2 student engineers on a data management system developed during the YES2 project.

IAC inauguration ceremony

The event provided an excellent opportunity for the students to gain experience in presenting their own research to the space/aerospace community and interacting with those already in their future field of work. They have not only participated in the technical sessions at the congress but were also able to put their questions to officials representing many of the world’s space agencies. Thomas-Louis de Lophem of the ESA Education department explains:

“During the conference the ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and Rene Oosterlinck, ESA Director of Legal Affairs and External Relations had the opportunity to answer questions from the students participating in the congress. Our students also attended a question and answer session given by NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations, William Gerstenmaier. The students asked questions on many topics, including collaboration with other space agencies and nations outside the European community, space education and the implementation of Galileo project.”

ESA's Director General at IAC

Lise Bilhaut, a French PhD student reading Micro and Nano systems at Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, found the whole conference an extremely useful experience:

“I really liked the technical sessions but the best thing about the conference was that it was interdisciplinary. As I am curious about several subjects, I was able to go to some interesting sessions.”

She continues:

“It was nice being in such a large group of students because the atmosphere was really relaxed and they were all studying very interesting things, so I got to find out about lots of interesting subjects. I really enjoyed it.”


The event was organised by the Astronomical Society of India (ASI) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This 58th IAC was hosted at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) and the International Space Exhibition in the HITEX Complex adjacent to the Convention Centre.

The 59th IAC will take place in Glasgow, Scotland between the 29th September and 3rd October 2008.

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