Highlights of GLEX 2017 happening in Beijing from 6-8 June 2017

Li Ming and Christian Sallaberger. Image courtesy of The International Astronautical Federation.

The Global Space Exploration Conference 2017 (GLEX 2017) is currently being held in Beijing, China, from 6-8 June 2017. Jointly organized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and the Chinese Society of Astronautics (CSA), the 3-day event is attended by over a thousand delegates from over 50 countries, consisting of agency heads, scientists and engineers, entrepreneurs and other industry professionals.

As the name suggests, GLEX 2017 focuses on space exploration, comprising numerous panel discussions and technical sessions on the topic. This year’s is the second such conference, the first having been held in Washington DC in 2012. Highlights this year include the policies and objectives of space exploration, lunar missions, Mars and other planets, as well as engineering challenges such as propulsion systems and energy sources.

Yesterday, the first day of the conference, saw opening addresses by Li Yuanchao, Vice-President of People’s Republic of China, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the IAF, and Lei Fanpei, Chairman of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and President of the CSA.

All three speakers stressed the importance of international cooperation; afterwards, during the the Heads of Agencies plenary and a panel discussion jointly hosted by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the CNSA, the idea of a global space agency was put forth.

Highlights of the conference include a luncheon moderated by Dr. Jean- Yves Le Gall, a talk by Director-General of the European Space Agency (ESA) Dr Johann-Dietrich Woerner on international cooperation on the moon, and a lecture by Buzz Aldrin.

On the Chinese front, GLEX 2017 promises to give the global audience a deeper and clearer look at the Chinese space programme. Yesterday, attendees enjoyed a plenary session titled “The Development and Prospect of China’s Space Activities” comprising an all-Chinese panel of high-level executives from the various Chinese space departments. Yang Liwei, Deputy Director General of the China Manned Space Agency, also presented on China’s newest launch site, the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on Hainan Island, which carried out its first launch in June last year.

Other talks to look forward to include lectures on Chinese deep space exploration and the development of space launch vehicles, as well as presentation from Lockheed Martin and Thales Alenia on space exploration technologies, which will be held today and tomorrow.

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