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Space Conference opens at Dubai Airshow

The dedicated pavilion will cover the aeronautics and space industry

Image Credit: Gulf News Archives
The Space Pavilion will host a panel discussion on Mars exploration featuring speakers from Boeing, Airbus as well as the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre

The Space Conference makes its first appearance at this year’s Dubai Airshow with a dedicated Space Pavilion covering the gamut of the aeronautics and space industry - from Mars exploration to space tourism, looking back to past lunar missions and looking ahead to the next generation of astronauts and engineers.

One of the keynote speakers is retired Nasa astronaut and engineer Col. Al Worden, who piloted the command module of the Apollo 15 moon mission in 1971.

Col. Worden told Airshow organisers he’s looking forward to attending the Dubai Airshow for the first time.

“I am excited to see first-hand how the UAE’s vision for leadership in aerospace and aviation supports this world-class event and how the event creates excitement and support around the world for the UAE’s vision,” said Col. Worden.

Col. Worden will have some interesting tales to tell when he takes the stage. He’s one of only 24 people to have flown to the moon.

Worden also holds two Guinness World Records. One, for being the world’s loneliest person, or more accurately, for being the most isolated human.

He was measured to have been at a distance of 2,235 miles (more than 3,500km) from another person while he was orbiting the moon on the Apollo 15 command module away from the rest of his crew stationed at Hadley Base.

His second record is for the first ever spacewalk in deep space, lasting 39 minutes, to collect film canisters from their external cameras while on their way back home to earth.

Col. Worden is here with an agenda - to use these experiences to inspire the next generation.

He’ll be joined in a panel discussion on educating future space scientists by speakers from the UAE Space Agency, Masdar Institute and Orbital ATK.

“I am honoured to be invited to participate in the show’s Space Pavilion Conference as an advocate for STEM education,” said Worden.

“For explorers of all ages, on earth and across the universe, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths are the most vital tools of the trade,” he said.

It is today’s students who will enable humanity to explore further than ever before, says John Elbon, Boeing’s Vice-President and General Manager of Space Exploration.

“Enthusiasm and excitement generated by ideas for advancing human space exploration
are keys to igniting our youth’s passion for space,” said Elbon via email.

“It’s an exciting time in the space industry as we build the world’s largest most powerful rocket to take us to deep space.”

Boeing has the $4.2-billion Nasa contract to build the Starliner, a fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system designed to launch, manoeuvre in orbit and dock to low earth orbit destinations such as the International Space Station (ISS).

It’s the first step in a programme Boeing calls A Path to Mars, which will be on display at the Space Conference including the Boeing CST-100 Starliner.

“Getting humans to Mars and back safely will be a marathon, not a sprint, which is why we advocate for a measureable, phased approach to going to Mars,” said Elbon.

The next phases will include research and testing in cislunar space to ensure all relevant technologies work in deep space before the three-year journey to Mars is started.

The Space Pavilion is hosting a panel discussion on Mars exploration on Monday morning, featuring speakers from Boeing and Airbus as well as more local representatives: the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

The 75-member Emirates Mars Mission team is based at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, developing the Hope spacecraft.

It has ambitious aims, to be the first Arab mission to another planet, and to do so in 2021, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

Conditions will be tight, as there is only a narrow launch window in July 2020, to benefit from the shortest possible distance when the two planets’ orbits are the best aligned for the next two years.

Space tourism will also be on the agenda, with George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic scheduled to speak.

Virgin Galactic has confirmed to GN Focus via email that it currently has 700 customers signed up for the first commercial space mission, with flight testing going well in Mojave, California.

Other big international names that will be part of the first Space Pavilion include France’s Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and ISS Reshetnev.

French aerospace systems manufacturer Bertin is a support player to leading aerospace manufacturers such as Airbus, Thales Alenia Space, CNES and Safran.

“At the Dubai Airshow, Bertin will focus on its high performance systems on demand,” said Armelle Chavanet, Content Marketing Manager for Bertin Technologies.

“We provide tailor-made systems developed from scratch to assembly, integration testing and validation,” Chavanet said in her email.

The Space Conference runs until tomorrow.

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