Plenary Programme

The IAC Plenary Programme features an exciting selection of high-level Plenary Sessions, Highlight Lectures and Late-breaking News events.

Highlight Lectures


Highlight Lecture 1: Chasing a Comet – Recent Results from the Rosetta Mission

Tuesday 30 September, 

Highlight Lecture 2: The Role of Space-based Assets in Providing Critical Environmental Intelligence to meet Social Needs

Wednesday 1 October, 

Highlight Lecture 3: Seeing the first light after the big bang through the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Thursday 2 October, 

Plenary Events


Plenary 1: Heads of Agencies

Monday 29 September, 13

The Heads of Agencies plenary event will bring together the leaders of major space agencies worldwide. Following the structure of previous years, this year’s Heads of Agencies Plenary will begin with an introductory presentation on latest developments, followed by a discussion on specific topics as well as an interactive Q&A session with the audience.

Plenary 2: Fresh Water for All: The Role of Space Assets

Monday 29 September, 

Every citizen of Earth needs a reliable, accessible supply of fresh water. This is a condition for survival. There are millions of people around the globe for whom obtaining a daily supply of drinking water is difficult, if not impossible, and the problem is growing worse with time.  This plenary will explore how the use of space assets can uniquely help to address this critical problem.

Plenary 3: Commercial Human Spaceflight: Real Programmes with Successes and Challenges

Tuesday 30 September, 

This session will offer a unique opportunity to hear about the individual successes and common challenges of the spacecraft developers. It will include a quick video review of the developers’ successes, and then concentrate on a panel discussion of their common challenges that are unique to human spaceflight. Discussion topics will include their relationships to their customers and to their suppliers; the nascent regulatory matters driven by human spaceflight; the challenges of building human-rated spacecraft and spaceports; and maximizing return on investment.

Plenary 4: The ‘Next Generation’ Plenary – Innovations in Exploration

Tuesday 30 September, 13

In the “Next Generation Plenary — Innovations in Exploration,” competitively selected student and young professional panelists will discuss innovative ideas they are actively researching or currently working on now and the next steps for turning these ideas into reality. They will discuss why they believe these ideas will change the way we explore space and how space impacts life on Earth. They will focus on near-term and attainable innovations to make space exploration safer and more efficient as well as be fundamentally beneficial to those living on Earth.

Plenary 5: The Cryosphere in Retreat

Wednesday 1 October, 08:30 – 09:30

The cryosphere is a fundamental element of the global climate system that influences large-scale fluxes of energy, moisture and gases. The plenary will be in three parts plus a discussion period. The first part will summarize our current knowledge of the changes observed in the cryosphere as determined by the different systems used to monitor its physical parameters. The second part will address issues related to forecasting expected changes in the next century. The third part will address questions related to adaptation and mitigation of the negative impacts of a retreating cryosphere.

Plenary 6: ISS and Beyond: The Future of Human Activity in Low-Earth Orbit

Thursday 2 October, 08:30 – 09:30

ISS, the largest international scientific-technical cooperation, is now active and continues to produce valuable and exciting results. This Panel will discuss, amongst leaders in the field from the private sector and agency representatives, visions for the use of LEO in the next decade and beyond. This includes innovative infrastructure concepts, new utilization ideas involving communities from the private or public sector, potentials for reduction of operations cost, novel international cooperation aspects, and integration into long-term global exploration scenarios.

Plenary 7: Global societal challenge as the key driver for space activities: the imperative for a new way to engage stakeholders

Thursday 2 October, 13:30 – 14:30

This Plenary will provide an opportunity for experts from space agencies, associations, academia and industry for an interactive dialogue with the audience on how and how effective the international space community is engaging with stakeholders. It will address how strategic analysis could lead to strategic actions that are tailored to societal realities. The panel seeks to bring together perspectives on the inspirational potential of space, on innovation capability and demand-driven impact.


Highlight Lecture 1 – The Rosetta Mission



Highlight Lecture 2 – Space and Environmental Intelligence



Highlight Lecture 3 – Seeing the first light from the big bang, through the JWST.