WASHINGTON — The International Astronautical Federation is ready for one of its biggest conferences ever this week, even as organizers deal with political and geopolitical issues about the event.
The 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) formally starts here Oct. 21, with more than 6,300 people registered to attend, representatives of the IAF and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the host organization for the event, said during a press conference here Oct. 20.
The event’s highlights include a heads-of-agencies panel Oct. 21 that includes NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine along with representatives from space agencies in Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan and Russia. Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Blue Origin, will receive the IAF’s first “Excellence in Industry” award at a ceremony Oct. 22.
The most prominent participant in the event, though, will be Vice President Mike Pence, who will speak at the conference’s opening ceremony Oct. 21. Pence’s appearance, announced earlier this month by conference organizers, has attracted some criticism because of Pence’s stance on social issues.
An online petition published Oct. 19 called on the IAF to rescind Pence’s invitation to speak because of his views. Organizers said they planned to walk out of the opening ...