Update from IAC 2011 (+ special announcement!)
Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa! This is the host city of this year's International Astronautical Congress, the largest international space conference that takes place each year. This is the 62nd IAC, although this is the first that I have attended and also the first time that the IAC has taken place on African soil. Cape Town is doing a fantastic job hosting us – the country is beautiful, and it is clear that they have strong ambitions to further grow the space industry in South Africa.
The IAC draws thousands of space scientists, engineers, students, lawyers, and entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe, and this year features presentations of about 1600 abstracts that were accepted on a range of topics that span the space industry. This includes (but certainly isn’t limited to) launch vehicles, all types of spacecraft, technology developments, near-term exploration goals, and long-term roadmaps. The Google Lunar X PRIZE had three papers submitted to this year’s Congress, focusing on updates about the competition and the emerging commercial lunar industry.
Today I presented an update on the Google Lunar X PRIZE, to inform the international space community about the latest news emerging from the competition. I presented in a Moon Exploration session along with two teams (Astrobotic and the Rocket City Space Pioneers) and organizations that are partnered with GLXP teams, such as Draper Laborotories, who presented on their Talaris lander project. The message from GLXP this year was clear – that teams are creating near-term, cost-effective missions to the lunar surface, and they are ready to take payloads for anyone that wants to join them.
One of the current challenges that we face with GLXP is raising awareness about the potential payload capabilities of the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams – primarily amongst the scientific community, but also to a broader audience as well. That is one of the reasons that I am at IAC this year, and why Alex is currently at the EPSC conference in Nantes. One of our near-term projects at the X PRIZE Foundation is working on creating online tools to match up interested parties with teams -- if you’d like to send something to the lunar surface in the next few years, please send us a note and we’ll keep you in the loop as we develop tools to bridge the gap between customers and teams.
And now for the SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!
In line with the conferences Alex and I are presenting at this week, we are happy to announce the release the 2011 Hardware Reel! This is an annual compilation of video clips from the GLXP teams, showcasing the amazing things that they are currently working on. We hope you enjoy it!