The 61st International Astronautical Congress (IAC) will be held in Prague, Czech Republic, from 27 September to 1 October under the theme 'Space for Human Benefit and Exploration' .
The IAC is held annually by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in association with the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL)
According to the IAF, this week-long event is one where around 3000 high-level academics and delegates from space agencies and related industry can "meet, exchange, learn, promote and summarise activity over the year, celebrate success and share lessons and experience."
This year the local organiser is the Czech Space Office, while the 2011 IAC will be held in Cape Town, South Africa.
"We have chosen the focal theme of the Congress in Prague as Space for Human benefit and exploration ." says Jan Kolář, the Chairman of the local organising committee.
"On one side, this reflects the permanent importance of practical applications of space to everyday life forcing many new countries to form and develop own space programmes. On the other side, it pays attention to mankind’s next grand challenge – space exploration.
"The IAC at Prague’s Congress Centre will provide another opportunity for representatives from political, industrial and scientific sectors, together with members of the general public to shape the future direction of space exploration. As the ambitions of space nations are becoming apparent, the countries are focusing on how their own space exploration plans might integrate with global space endeavours and how might collaborate with other nations to develop a truly global space exploration strategy. We believe that space exploration can inspire nations to work together for a common purpose. Our goal is that the 61st IAC in Prague eminently promotes that vision."
Topics covered during IAC 2010 include among others The Impact of Governments’ Space Policy Changes on Industry , Global Sea Level Rise and Its Societal Impacts , Next Generation Visions For Space Operations and ISS Research – A Decade of Progress and a Decade of Promise Highlight lectures
Highlight lectures include The European Vision and Role in Worldwide Space Exploration , Origins, Surprises and Future of GPS , Chandrayaan-1 and Water on the Moon and also one called SETI Progress and Prospects (29 September).
This year it is exactly a half-century since the first modern experiment in the field known as SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. SETI is represented in the International Academy of Astronautics as the IAA SETI Permanent Study Group.
The IAF site says despite the fact that SETI has yet to find a compelling signal that would indicate that we’re not alone, it is a highly dynamic field. Discoveries of extrasolar planets, the strong indications of liquid water on a half-dozen other worlds in our solar system, and the very early genesis of life on Earth all suggest that life is not a highly rare phenomenon.