World's astronauts, scientists, technicians meet for annual space congress
More than 2,000 astronauts, engineers and scientists are currently rubbing shoulders at the Prague Congress Centre, for the annual International Astronautical Congress. The meeting, being held here for the first time since 1977, covers subjects as diverse as the future of the International Space Station and whether there’s life on Mars.
Most of the ideas and technology being discussed here in Prague are in fact far from science fiction, and have major implications for the way all of us lead our lives back here on Earth. Joe Carroll designs experimental space tethering systems – space cables that can be dozens or even hundreds of kilometres long - for NASA:
The theme of this year’s congress is ‘space for human benefit and exploration’. More and more countries around the world want to get in on the act – one of several hundred seminars will evaluate India’s recent mission to the Moon, the fourth country to plant its flag there. Space exploration has become not just a matter of prestige for newcomers like China and India, but a matter of economic and practical necessity. Shri Ramakrishnan is from the Indian Space Research Organisation:
“If you want to keep the country in technology, science and development, if you want to keep the same pace and interest the younger generation, space is an arena which really excites. You go to any school or college and talk about space travel, that’s something much more exciting than talking about mundane technologies. So from that angle, we feel that keeping this exploration is very important for the country’s growth, and also for the international recognition and international cooperation.”