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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    AIAA in Beijing - September 2013

    AIAA Delegation Attends the 64th International Astronautical Congress
    By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

    A delegation of AIAA senior volunteer and staff leadership attended the 64th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), 23–27 September, in Beijing, China. Those attending included Vigor Yang, Vice President – Publications; Susan Ying, Vice President, International Activities; Sandy Magnus, Executive Director; Klaus Dannenberg, Deputy Executive Director; and Megan Scheidt, Managing Director, Technical Activities. The trip allowed AIAA to not only take an active role in the IAC proceedings, but also afforded many opportunities for AIAA’s representatives to meet with Chinese societies and organizations that the Institute collaborates with.


    Exhibition_opening_250When asked about the trip, Magnus stated, “Participating in this year’s IAC in Beijing allowed AIAA’s leadership to engage in dialogues which will strengthen the Institute’s presence in the global aerospace community. Not only was our delegation able to take an active role in this year’s conference, and its panels and ancillary discussions; we were able to meet with our Chinese colleagues to discuss further cooperation on a number of fronts; and we were able to spend time gaining a better understanding of how other U.S.-based societies operate in China, giving us much food for thought about how AIAA can work to better meet the needs of our members based in China” (Pictured: AIAA Executive Director Sandra Magnus officially opens the AIAA exhibit at IAC. Click image for larger version.


    The IAC officially opened on Monday, 23 September, and following the opening ceremonies AIAA hosted a reception at its booth in the exhibition hall, providing members and conference attendees an informal opportunity to interact with the AIAA delegation. Sandy, Vigor, Susan along with AIAA Vice President Public Policy Mary Snitch, who was also attending IAC, welcomed the reception’s participants against the backdrop of AIAA’s new messaging theme, “Ignite and Celebrate,” in both English and Chinese. Sandy’s status as a former astronaut drew attendees into the reception, as many people were excited to meet someone who had actually been in space. The reception was both a way to celebrate the aerospace industry, as well as way for AIAA leadership to hear the perspectives and viewpoints of the students and young professionals, individual professionals and corporate members of AIAA who were in attendance.


    Earlier on the 23rd, Sandy sat down with Chinese journalist Yan Wen for an interview with the “Global Times”. During the interview, Sandy spoke at length about her experiences both as a female astronaut and as AIAA’s Executive Director. The story is expected to run sometime this fall, and will be available on the AIAA website as well as in the AIAA Daily Launch.


    CAMPC_group_250Tuesday, 24 September, got off to an early start with a meeting between AIAA and China Aviation Publishing and Media Group (CAMPC), AIAA’s aviation publishing partner in China. Delegation members Vigor, Sandy, and Megan met with CAPMC President Liu Xin and his staff at their Beijing office and discussed continued collaboration between AIAA and CAMPC. During the meeting it was noted that since 2010 CAMPC has published fourteen AIAA book titles as either partial or full translations, and that more translations are either in process or planned for the future. Additional subjects of conversation included potential collaboration in the areas of conferences, continuing education, and membership activities. (Pictured: AIAA Delegation members Vigor Yang, Sandy Magnus, and Megan Schedidt meet with CAPMC President Liu Xin and his staff at their Beijing office. Click image for larger version.)


    Later in the day, Sandy participated in the IAC panel session entitled “Women in Space: A 50-Year Success Story.” The panel featured a stellar array of participants, primarily astronauts, including Russia’s Valentina V. Tereshkova, a member of Russia’s parliament, and the first woman to fly in space when she was sent aloft in Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963; Japan’s Chiaki Mukai, senior scientist and astronaut of the Space Biomedical Research Office, Japan Aerospace Exploration (JAXA),and the first Japanese woman in space, not to mention the first Japanese citizen to fly on two spaceflights; Malaysia’s, Mazlan Othman, director of the United Nation’s Office for Outer Space Affairs and founding Director General of the Malaysian National Space Agency; Liu Yang, the first Chinese woman in space as part of the Shenzhou 9 mission crew; and Wang Yaping, the second Chinese woman in space as the mission commander of the Shenzhou 10 mission. During the session, the panelists discussed their experiences in space, and their experiences as woman working in the space industry. During the panel Sandy also shared a video from her time on the International Space Station (ISS).


    Sandy also sat on a panel for the IAC’s Young Professional Program that looked at the future of space exploration and the contributions made to exploration by the International Space Station (ISS). Joining Sandy on the panel were Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, NASA; Masazumi Miyake, ISS Program Manager, JAXA; Thomas Reiter, astronaut and Director of Human Spaceflight Operations, European Space Agency (ESA); and Fei Junlong, a Chinese astronaut. The panel was chaired by Kathy Laurini, Senior Advisor, Exploration and Space Operations, NASA. Among the items discussed were the benefits of robotic vs. human exploration; the importance of returning to the Moon; Mars as a driving force for exploration; and possible technological solutions to decrease future explorations’ reliance on Earth bound supplies. Of course, the panelists also shared important advice for the benefit of the YPs in attendance. Sandy urged attendees to “live a life you won’t regret,” and then illustrated that point by talking about her pursuit of a career as an astronaut. The young professionals came away from the event both inspired by the future of their industry, and energized by the advice of the panelists to get that future started!


    Wednesday, 25 September began with talks with the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). Sandy, Klaus, and Megan were able to meet with IAF President Kiyoshi Higuchi and Executive Director Christian Feichtinger where they discussed areas of potential collaboration between the organizations such as conferences and young professional and student outreach activities. AIAA is a founding member of IAF, and is its largest professional society member.


    CSA_group_250Following the AIF meeting, the delegation met with Wu Yansheng, vice president of the Chinese Society of Astronautics (CSA) and vice president China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and Yang Junhua, vice president and secretary general CSA. During this meeting, Sandy invited CSA participation in the AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition in San Diego in August 2014. Other topics of discussed were continued collaboration on membership, student activities, publications, and cross-participation in each organization’s events. Sandy also presented the CSA representatives with mission patches from STS-135. (Pictured: AIAA delegation met with Wu Yansheng, vice president of the Chinese Society of Astronautics (CSA) and vice president China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and Yang Junhua, vice president and secretary general CSA. Click image for larger version.)


    CSAA_group_250Following this meeting, the delegation met with representatives of the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics (CSAA), discussing specific areas of collaboration between the two societies including: increased cooperation in the areas of student activities, journal publication, and joint participation in each other’s events. Sandy invited CSAA to organize a panel session at the AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition in Atlanta in June 2014 (Pictured: AIAA delegation met with representatives of the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics (CSAA), discussing specific areas of collaboration between the two societies. Click image for larger version.)


    During the week, CSAA hosted the First Aviation Science and Technology Conference in Beijing as part of the Aviation Expo China 2013. The conference was co-hosted by a number of Chinese Aviation companies and universities and organized by CAPMC. During this conference, AIAA Vice President-International Susan Ying presented a keynote address focused on “ABC of Commercial Aviation: Technology Insertion Rewards and Challenges.


    Wednesday’s busy schedule was capped off by Sandy’s participation in the IAC’s Global Networking Forum, a Q&A event for students and young professionals about Sandy’s experience as an astronaut. Sandy was able to answer questions from audience members in the room as well as via Twitter. She also shared with attendees a video detailing her time in space living on the ISS.


    Thursday, 26 September, was another packed day for the AIAA delegation. Sandy and Klaus got the day moving with a morning meeting with Ning Hau, head of the Beijing Branch of IEEE. The meeting was part of an effort to better understand IEEE operations and activities in China. The group discussed the role of professional societies in the Chinese culture; how Chinese industry, government, and academia relate and work together; as well as IEEE membership concentration and activities in China.


    Sandy_Yang_kids_250Later that day, Sandy traveled to Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA), to take part in “A Dialogue between Female Astronauts of China and United States.” Organized by BUAA, and co-sponsored by AIAA and CSA, the event featured a lively discussion between Sandy and China’s Liu Yang in front of nearly 300 students from selected grade schools and major universities throughout Beijing. The discussion allowed the two astronauts to discuss their experiences during their individual space missions, with Sandy focusing on her time aboard STS-135 and Yang on the Shenzhou-9 mission. (Pictured: Sandy Magnus traveled to Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA), to take part in “A Dialogue between Female Astronauts of China and United States.” Click image for larger version.)

    Following their presentations, the two astronauts fielded questions from the student audience, met with the Chinese media in attendance, and signed autographs for the crowd. Some of the questions the students asked during the Q&A included: “What inspired you to become an astronaut?” “How does your family feel about you being an astronaut?” and “Did you see debris in space?” Other questions dealt with how the astronauts balance their personal and professional lives, and how one becomes an astronaut in the United States. During the event, Sandy reinforced for the students that “persistence, hard work, and education” are important if one wants to work in space!  


    Panel_Sandy2_250The last day of the IAC, Friday, 27 September, was much like the others – busy and packed with meetings. Sandy took part in another of the IAC’s Global Networking Forum, and once again discussed her experiences in space in front of a crowd for the exhibition’s public day. Joining Sandy on the panel were: Dorin Prunariu, a retired Romanian astronaut who flew on the Soyuz 40 mission; Chiaki Mukai; and Christer Fuselang, a Swedish physicist and ESA astronaut who flew on STS-116, and was the first Swedish citizen in space. Sandy contrasted the differences between living in and visiting space, comparing her Space Shuttle missions with her time on the ISS. She talked about how being in space “changes our perceptions of who we are.” Sandy closed her talk by reminding the audience that “astronauts consider themselves citizens of the world, not just their specific countries.” (Pictured: Sandy Magnus (middle), (left), (right). Click image for larger version.)  


    The final event for the delegation’s time in China was a meeting between Klaus and Zhang Qiang, Executive Director of ASME’s Beijing office. The discussion was part of an attempt to better understand ASME operations and activities in China. During the meeting they discussed similar topics to those discussed in the IEEE meeting, but also discussed the prevailing market for Chinese language journals, publications, and events in China.


    While only a week in duration, the trip allowed AIAA to show the world who we are, and what we are committed to as an organization. It also allowed for yet another opportunity to engage the Chinese on an international stage with the hope that such meetings will continue to promote a collegial and unified working environment between China and the rest of the world’s space community, which can only benefit the future of space exploration and humankind.