II Congress of the Association of Space Explorers
Budapest, Hungary
October 13-17, 1986

Theme: Toward Space Civilization
Crystal Helmet Planetary Award: Oleg Gazenko and Gerard O'Neill
Host: Bertalan Farkas


The Second Planetary Congress of the Association of Space Explorers was convened at the Government Guest House in Budapest, Hungary on October 13, 1986. The Congress was organized by the Secretariat of the Hungarian Intercosmos Council and sponsored by the Hungarian Government. Here, for the second time in history, astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world assembled to share their experiences and to discuss their visions about the future of humanity in space.

The Opening Ceremony was held October 13 where the fliers were greeted and welcomed by Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Lajos Czinege. During the ceremony, remarks were made by Edward Levi, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Academician A.P. Alexandrov, President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and by Nikolai Rukavishnikov, President of the Federation of Cosmonautics of the USSR. During the opening plenary session, a special memorial to the crew of the space shuttle Challenger was read, followed by a moment of silence observed by the delegations on their behalf.

Monday afternoon was devoted to a discussion of the Congress theme,"Toward Space Civilization." Cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn (GDR) remarked that projects such as the human exploration of Mars would be possible only on the basis of close cooperation on Earth and in space. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (USSR) added that the development of civilization is inextricably linked with space exploration. Astronaut Rusty Schweickart (United States) reminded the assembled fliers that the manner in which we begin the process of civilizing space would set the pattern for generations to come. As a result of these discussions, the Association publicly expressed its hope that the spirit of cooperation begun in both unmanned space research and in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program would be extended into future space activities. The delegations urged that discussions regarding the cooperative development of space, especially those leading to the extension of human capability in this new environment, be continued at all levels within the international community.

On Tuesday afternoon the fliers took the opportunity to share the flight experiences of six of the attending members. Vladimir Soloviev, the world record holder for consecutive days spent in space (237) presented slides taken on board the new Soviet orbital complex MIR and recounted his experiences aboard the world's only permanent space station. Afterwards, the group was treated to a series of slides taken aboard the space shuttle during the Spacelab mission of members Loren Acton, J-D Bartoe and Karl Henize. Finally, European fliers Ernst Messerschmid (FRG) and Wubbo Ockels (The Netherlands) showed a film from their Spacelab flight which included several interesting on-board experiments performed by the crew.

On Thursday, after three days of working group sessions on organizational matters such as the ASE Charter, press releases, agreements on current and future projects, the logo and a structural and financial plan, the delegations assembled to hear the ideas of internationally recognized authorities on the subject of space civilization, ideas with far reaching vision and fundamentally different approaches to the problems and promise of space civilization. Attila Baj, Secretary of the Intercosmos Council of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences opened the program with a briefing on Hungarian space achievements and future plans. Soviet cosmonaut Konstantin Feoktistov then presented his views on the technical challenges humanity faces if it is to have a lasting and far-reaching presence in space. Following Feoktistov, Soviet Academician Oleg Gazenko shared his insights into the complexities associated with prolonged human habitation in space.

That afternoon, keynote speaker Gerard O'Neill spoke about his vision of what shape human life will take as it begins to assemble and populate self-replicating and self-supporting space communities in space. Astronaut Rusty Schweickart (United States) followed by exploring the implications of our current approach to space exploration (cooperative or competitive) on the future of human activity in space. Following the session a press conference was held at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; the press conference opened with the release of the General Statement of the Second Congress and concluded with the presentation of the Crystal Helmet to Oleg Gazenko and Gerard O'Neill for their contributions in their respective fields to the expansion of the human presence in space.

The final afternoon and evening of the Congress were spent in the historic and picturesque town of Eger, 150 kilometers northeast of Budapest. After a walk around the ancient fortress ramparts in the center of town, the astronauts and cosmonauts were treated to an organ recital at the Eger Cathedral, an acoustical experience reported to be among the best in the country. From the Cathedral the group made its way to the "Beautiful Lady" wine cellar, known throughout Hungary for its rich folk hospitality. The fliers were greeted by a spirited folk dancing troupe and enjoyed an evening of folk music and traditional Hungarian cuisine.

Results of the Congress

The Second Congress saw the continued evolution of the Association as an international organization devoted to promoting global awareness of the opportunities for cooperation in space and the use of space technology for the benefit of humanity. At the outset of the Congress, members broke into working groups dedicated to working on various organizational issues. The charter working group, led by Dumitru Prunariu (Romania) developed a charter for the Association, to be used as the basis for international incorporation. A second group, led by Loren Acton (United States) worked out a system for organizational protocol and long-term financing of the Association's activities. A third group, led by Alexei Leonov (USSR), made final selections for the Association's logo, which Leonov, a renowned space artist, was assigned to produce and submit to the Executive Committee for approval and adoption. The remaining group was assigned the task of developing future projects for the Association. This group, co-chaired by Byron Lichtenberg (United States) and Oleg Makarov (USSR) agreed to support the production in the US of a book project initiated at the first Congress (The Home Planet). A second book project was also recommended, one to be produced in the USSR and which would consist of short essays by space explorers about their life experiences and impressions from space.

In order to spread the ASE message to the public, the Congress also agreed to arrange for a series of joint astronaut/cosmonaut appearances, first in the United States and USSR, then on an ongoing basis world-wide.

II Congress Poster | Photos