Eighty-one space explorers from sixteen nations gathered October 10-17, 1993 at the 9th ASE Planetary Congress in Vienna, Austria, the largest assembly of its kind ever outside the United States or Russia. The participants discussed topics in a variety of areas, the primary focus being the Congress theme, "Space for Life." Additional sessions included a technical session devoted to space program updates, a special session on Space and the Environment, and an open ended member forum. ASE presented its Crystal Helmet Planetary Award to Professor Sir Hermann Bondi for his many years of service to the advancement of international space research, particularly as founding director of the European Space Research Organization, the precursor to the European Space Agency. Austrian ASE member Franz Viehbock, with the assistance of his wife, Vesna, Dr. Johannes Ortner and his Austrian Space Agency, and a group of able volunteers organized the event.
At the opening ceremony, Viehbock introduced the members present and noted the recent passing of members Deke Slayton and Karl Henize. Among those welcoming the members at the ceremony were Mr. Ernst Gabbmann, a representative of the Governor of Lower Austria, Mr. Raoul Kneucker, a representative of Austrian Vice-Chancellor Erhard Busek, and Dr. Ortner. Professor Bondi made his keynote presentation at the Opening Ceremony as well, noting that international cooperation built upon personal contacts is essential in addressing today's global challenges. He also cited the contributions that space exploration has made to the understanding of life at both the biomedical and global ecological levels, and thanked the members for the contributions they and their profession had made in these regards.
At the "Space for Life" theme session chaired by John Fabian, members heard the remarks of Drs. Arnauld Nicogossian, Oleg Gazenko, Heinz Oser and Oleg Atkov. Dr.Gazenko presented a history of the development of the medical sciences and their application to various types of exploration from antiquity through the space age. Dr. Nicogossian described many of the physical changes that the human body undergoes in space. He called for increased international cooperation to achieve standardization and integration of information, hardware, procedures and operations connected with human spaceflight to more effectively resolve its associated biomedical challenges. Dr. Oser reported on the results of ESA's activities in the space life sciences. Concluding the session, ASE member Dr. Atkov described the range of opportunities for advancement in medicine offered by life science activities in space.
At the space program update session, Jerry Ross, Vladimir Solovyov and Wubbo Ockels reported to the members on the programs of NASA, the Russian Space Agency, and ESA, respectively. Ross provided overviews of the eight U.S. Shuttle missions since the last Congress. Solovyov summarized the past year of Mir station activity with video accompaniment. Ockels presented his view of the strategic choices and program scenarios that the European Space Agency is currently considering for the future. At the Space and the Environment session chaired by Oleg Makarov, Viktor Savinykh discussed the generation of orbital debris, reporting that space debris is increasing at an alarming rate in orbits that could pose threats for spacecraft crews unless this proliferation is controlled. Alexander Poleschuk discussed his recent mission on the Mir station using video taped on orbit. Mary Cleave presented a brief review of the planned Mission to Planet Earth, using hand-held spaceflight photography to review the contributions that crews have made in documenting earth science phenomena.
At the member forum, the discussion ranged from the challenges that members have been encountered in working with foreign space programs to what ASE might do as an organization to make more of a difference at the international level in the areas it feels are most important. The latter discussion resulted in the establishment of four international ASE standing committees: Policy, Liaison and Public Relations; Crew Safety and Technical Support; Ecology; and Development and Financial Support. In organizational matters, ASE members re-elected Jon McBride and Wubbo Ockels to the international executive committee and elected Alexei Leonov to succeed Oleg Makarov. The members also approved an amendment to the ASE charter that grants executive committee membership to the presidents of recognized national and regional ASE committees, as well as to hosts of upcoming ASE Congresses. Finally, ASE-Russia confirmed plans to host the 10th ASE Congress in 1994 in Moscow and on Lake Baikal.
In an evening meeting with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, members engaged in a spirited discussion as to how best to re-ignite public support for human space exploration, calling for stepped up attention to the question throughout national education systems. On the Congress community day, members fanned out across Austria to Innsbruck, Linz, Graz as well as through Vienna to schools and sponsoring businesses to make presentations about their space flight experiences. Additional outings organized by the hosts included a reception at his palace with the President of Austria, a boat ride on the Danube river, and visits to two Franciscan monasteries a Viennese brewery, and the famed Spanish Riding School.