What to expect at International Astronautical Congress in Dubai

World’s largest space conference will take place from October 25-29

Astronauts, scientists, engineers and policymakers are set to gather in Dubai next month for the world’s largest space conference.

The International Astronautical Congress 2021 will take place at the World Trade Centre from October 25-29.

Insight into some of the latest space exploration missions will be discussed at the annual event, which is being organised by the International Astronautical Federation.

The National highlights some of the main topics that will be addressed.

Emirates Mars Mission

The first set of science data from the UAE’s Hope probe is expected to be released in the first week of October.

Scientists with the mission will hold a workshop at IAC, where they will discuss the findings.

Researchers who want to use the data are being encouraged to attend.

The spacecraft arrived in Mars’ orbit on February 9 and is collecting information from the planet’s upper and lower atmosphere.

Mission control in Dubai has already received hundreds of images from the orbiter, including scientific readings on the planet’s atmosphere.

Results from UAE’s first human spaceflight

Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut to fly into space, and his colleagues from his 2019 mission will assemble at the IAC.

US astronauts Jessica Meir, Andrew Morgan and Christina Koch will speak alongside Maj Al Mansouri during an event to highlight the achievements of Expedition 61.

The expedition to the International Space Station began on October 3, 2019 with the undocking of the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft.

Maj Al Mansouri carried out 16 experiments and studied bone status indexes, body composition and endocrine regulation during a short flight, and some of the scientific discoveries will be revealed.

The astronauts will speak about the effects that launching the first Arab astronaut to the ISS has had on the region.

First Mars sample return mission

Nasa scientists are expected to speak about the process of returning samples of Mars rocks collected by the Perseverance rover.

The mission landed on the planet on February 18 and has been exploring the surface, searching for signs of ancient microbial life and testing new technologies such as producing oxygen from the atmosphere.

Nasa is working with the European Space Agency to bring back the rock samples.

Larry James, deputy director of the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will moderate a panel on the topic during IAC.

Speakers will include Jennifer Trosper, the Mars 2020 project manager, and Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the science mission directorate at Nasa.

Bringing back samples from asteroid Bennu

One of the highlight lectures at IAC will be on Nasa’s first asteroid sample return mission, called Osiris-Rex.

The spacecraft collected material from the asteroid on October 20 and is on its way back to Earth, with arrival expected in 2023.

The goal was to collect 60 grams of samples, but some of it leaked after the lid opened unexpectedly.

Once retrieved, the samples could help provide clues to the formation of the universe.

Heads of space agencies

The leaders of space agencies will speak during a panel session.

It has not yet been disclosed who will participate, but typically this would involve leaders of the major space agencies, such as Nasa, Russia’s Roscosmos, Japan’s Jaxa, Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, Indian Space Research Organisation and China’s space agency. The UAE is likely to feature on this year's panel.

The speakers share the progress being made on some of their latest missions and may also announce new plans.

This time, leaders from emerging space nations will also speak during another panel session, including from Turkey, South Africa, Morocco, Brazil, Australia and Ecuador.

Are any space billionaires attending?

SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos have been invited to the event but it has not yet been confirmed if either of them is attending.

Mr Musk attended the IAC in 2017, while Mr Bezos spoke at the 2019 event in Washington.

When a reporter asked Mr Musk on Twitter if he would like to attend this year’s IAC in Dubai, the billionaire replied ‘OK’.

But, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre told The National that it has not yet been confirmed.

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Updated: September 14th 2021, 5:34 AM
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