The 71st Congress corresponding to 2020 is converted to telematic format and Dubai displaces Paris in the organization of the 72nd edition of next year

Dubai keeps the International Astronautics Congress, but it will be in 2021

PHOTO/IAF - Attendees of the reconfigured 2020 Congress will have to be satisfied with seeing and hearing NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine through the screen of their electronic devices

As a consequence of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and following the April 11 agreement of the International Astronautical Federation -IAF- to "not hold the 71st International Astronautical Congress in Dubai in 2020 and to delay it" beyond October, the Governing Board of the said Federation has taken a Solomonic decision, which seems to satisfy all parties involved in what is the largest annual event of the world space community.

After two long weeks of arduous consultations and negotiations, the IAF, chaired by Pascale Ehrenfreund from Germany, has just confirmed that the city of Dubai will not be left without hosting an International Astronautical Congress or IAC. Dubai was chosen to host the 71st edition of the Congress in September 2017 and will be the first city in the Arab world to host such an event.

La candidatura de Bakú para albergar el Congreso de 2022 logró superar las propuestas de Milán, Nueva Delhi, Rio de Janeiro y Singapur. Prevista del 26 al 30 de septiembre, ahora se retrasa sin fecha determinada

But it will not take place this year and it will be held in 2021, an edition previously assigned to Paris, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency. Consequently, the 72nd International Astronautical Congress will not be held in the French capital from 27 September to 1 October as planned, instead it will be held in Dubai from 25 to 29 October 2021.

However, Pascale Ehrenfreund and the IAF management team have also agreed that 2020 could not be without a major global space event, providing an opportunity to learn about and follow the latest trends and innovations in the space industry.

París debía acoger el Congreso de 2021, pero la IAF ha decidido que se desarrolle en Dubái, que a causa del coronavirus no puede asumir el evento el próximo mes de octubre
Congresses already assigned to Paris and Baku are postponed

The decisions taken by the IAF management imply the modification of its calendar of major events for the coming years, which were already in full organizational stages. The main problem encountered by the IAF is that the decision on the venues of the 2021 and 2022 congresses had already been taken several years ago. The complexity of these events is taken two or three years in advance, as they are forums attended by between 8,000 and 10,000 senior figures in the sector and involve plenary sessions, numerous high-level conferences, technical seminars and presentations of the latest technologies implemented or under development.

Among the thousands of congress participants are senior political authorities, the directors of space agencies, scientific centers and international organizations, as well as famous scientists, senior executives from the public and private space sector, and numerous programme engineers and researchers.

Dubái fue elegida ciudad sede de la 71 edición del Congreso Internacional de Astronáutica en septiembre de 2017, durante el 68 Congreso celebrado en Adelaida (Australia)

The venue and organization of the Paris Congress of 2021 and also that of 2022, -the 73rd IAC- which was to take place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, from September 26th to 30th, had already been arranged for some time. The choice of Baku had been made on October 25, 2019 in Washington, the site of the 70th Congress. The Azerbaijani authorities had fought hard and finally won the contest with the candidates from New Delhi, Singapore, Milan and Rio de Janeiro, cities nominated by the space agencies of India, Singapore, Italy and Brazil.

Given the situation and the unknown evolution of the COVID-19 and the restrictions that governments will maintain because of it, Pascale Ehrenfreund prudently assures that the Paris and Baku Congresses "will be postponed" and that the exact details will be communicated "in the next few weeks".