By Mary Alys Cherry
The Association of Space Explorers has chosen the City of Houston to host the largest international gathering of space explorers in the world, honoring the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing.
During the prestigious October 2019 event, the 32nd Association of Space Explorers Planetary Congress will feature a week-long series of events engaging local educators, students and leaders in business, science and research in discussions on issues of broad interest to the international space community, government agencies around the world, and the public, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced at a press conference at city hall.
Later, several astronauts celebrated at a reception at Space Center Houston – Michael Lopez-Alegria, who is president of the Association of Space Explorers; Dr. Ellen Ochoa, now director of the Johnson Space Center; Michael Foreman, vice president of Venturi Outcomes in Houston; retired Lockheed Martin Vice President Rick Hieb; and Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, who will oversee the 2019 event. Dr. Dunbar is a Distinguished Research Professor in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M in College Station.
Space Center Houston President William Harris joined Lopez-Alegria in welcoming the crowd and announcing that ASE’s week-long event will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon, as well as to help inspire students in the future of space exploration.
Since its founding in 1985, the ASE, the only professional association for astronauts and cosmonauts in the world, has held its Planetary Congress in the U.S. only three times.
“Houston is the world’s ‘Space City,’ and the perfect selection for this prestigious Congress,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “It all started in Houston with President Kennedy’s ‘Man on the Moon’ speech in 1962. And, seven years later, the first word uttered from the surface of the Moon was ‘Houston.’ As home to NASA’s Mission Control and the astronaut corps, Houston has been at the epicenter of every manned space exploration mission for more than five decades.
“To be selected to host this event, in the same year we celebrate the golden anniversary of Apollo 11, is remarkable. What an honor it will be to welcome these space explorers from around the globe in the city where it all began.”
ASE’s XXXII Planetary Congress provides a forum for professional dialogue among its exclusive membership while sharing their personal experiences and perspectives with the public, including businesses, academic, science and research leaders, as well as students from across the state.
Attendees will exchange information about their national space programs, make technical presentations on selected topics relevant to human space flight (i.e., research, mission development, operations, astronaut training, etc.) and recognize the accomplishments and contributions of local academic and community leaders.
The opening and closing ceremonies will take place at Space Center Houston, with five technical sessions planned at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, the University of Houston Central Campus, and the Lunar Planetary Institute. All technical sessions are open and will be live streamed.