Astronautical Congress rockets Adelaide’s reputation as an international conference destination
IAC was the first major event to be held in the newly expanded Adelaide Convention Centre, with 4470 delegates from 71 nations, plus visits by 700 school children and several thousand members of the public who attended the public exhibition day, making this year’s congress one of the biggest in IAC history.
IAC comprised a detailed program including eight plenary sessions, three highlight lectures, two breaking news, 200 technical sessions and a custom exhibition, which used every square metre of the Centre’s space.
Tech billionaire Elon Musk, who is busy building the world’s largest lithium ion battery in SA, drew huge crowds with his presentation, ‘Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species’. The opening day announcement by Senator Simon Birmingham that the government would commit to developing Australia’s own space agency also garnered national and international attention.
Michael Davis, chair Space Industry Association of Australia who worked with the Adelaide Convention Bureau to bring the event to Adelaide, acknowledged “that the event has been universally judged as one of the most successful ever”.
Beyond the official program at the Centre, IAC associated exhibitions at the State Library and Museum were exceptionally well attended, while the closing gala dinner at the Adelaide Oval’s Magarey Room was a sell-out.
Adelaide Convention Bureau CEO Damien Kitto said the event, which was managed by local event organiser All Occasions Group, “was the epitome of what hosting conferences is all about”.
“The IAC absolutely captivated the city and in addition to the immediate benefit of the large economic benefit for tourism operators, it is the value of the incredible legacies that come into play well after the last delegate has returned home that truly highlight the importance of winning these large-scale industry events for South Australia,” he said.
Adelaide Convention Centre CEO Alec Gilbert, who is stepping down from the role at the end of the year, said that as the first major event since completing the redevelopment, “it was always going to be a great test to our team”.
“Utilising every inch of space we had, in various different configurations and often demanding quick turnarounds, it was a great demonstration of the flexible nature of our venue, making good use of our new East Building’s rotating seating drums and operable walls,” he said.
Brett Biddington, IAC 2017’s chief executive, said the city’s collaborative approach helped make the congress a success.
“Our delegate numbers have by far exceeded our expectations proving that delegates will travel from long distances if the content of the conference is right and for the amazing experiences that Australia offers,” he said. “This conference has set the benchmark for IAC events and Adelaide, Australia should be justifiably proud of the legacies it will leave.”
Some of those legacies are already in motion, with Adelaide SPACE startup Fleet announcing a partnership with French space agency CNES to track and support Fleet’s first nanosatellites once launched. Italy’s largest privately-owned space company SITAEL also signed a letter of intent with local start-up Inovar to jointly establish a multi-million dollar company in South Australia dedicated to the development and integration of nano-micro and mini-satellite based innovative satellites and space mission concepts.