AGNIESZKA LUKASZCZYK

Agnieszka Lukaszczyk was elected as Co-Chair of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). She joins fellow Chair Ben-Basely Walker to lead the Executive Council for a term of two years starting in April 2009.

What is your background and how did you first become interested in space?

My adventure with space begun on accident. It might come as a shock but I was never really interested in space. I thought the topic was rather strange and I did not see how it could have any relevance to me. What I was, however, interested in was working on things that would have a global impact and through which I could make a little difference in the world. I received a BA in Political Science from the University of Tennessee and a MA in International Politics - International Organisations and Security focus from the School of International Service at the American University. As most graduates do, I was applying everywhere hoping to get a decent job. In the mean time I interned with the Polish Embassy in Washington and the Polish Senate in Warsaw. When I received an e-mail asking for an interview from SGAC I didn't even know who they were and I was sure this was a mistake. During the interview I made clear that I didn't have a space background but due to my strong international policy background I was hired to be the new Executive Officer of the Space Generation Advisory Council and was sent to Vienna. To make the long story short, I very soon became totally hooked to space issues and SGAC specifically. I found the field fascinating and I very soon realised how very little average citizens know about it. It didn't take much to convince me how important space sector is to the daily lives of people and through outreach efforts I could help to make others aware too. At this point I cannot imagine myself working in a different field. Space is my calling :-).

Could you tell us a little about Space Generation and the role of the Space Generation Advisory Council?

The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications is a non-governmental organisation which aims to represent students and young space professionals to the United Nations, States, and space agencies. SGAC has permanent observer status in the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). SGAC has a long history and was conceived at the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Space (UNISPACE-III) in Vienna in 1999, the SGAC Executive Council is made up of representatives from each of the 6 UN regions, and has a larger body of representatives from nation states. Our focus is on pragmatic space policy advise to policy makers based on the interests of students and young professionals, broadly in the age range 18-35, interested in space from around the world. In addition to policy advice our members carry out a range projects including Under African Skies - a grass-roots science teaching project in Africa, Yuri’s Night - a World Space Party, an Association for the Development of Aerospace Medicine, and a Global Space Education Curriculum. The policy input of SGAC to date includes regular input to COPUOS, including to the UNISPACE-III Action Teams. We give input to national and international space agencies, for example the SGAC was the only non-governmental organization invited to the Space Policy Summit in Houston in 2002 which gathered heads of space agencies and major space companies to discuss the future of space. SGAC was invited by the European Commission to provide the perspective of the future European space workforce during the consultation process for the Green Paper on European Space Policy. In collaboration with European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), SGAC opened its first office in 2005 in their premises and hired its first intern who started in January 2006. The Space Generation Advisory Council is also a global Network of Networks which brings together students, young professionals, space organisations and other NGOs to present a unified vision for the future exploration of space to the United Nations and other bodies. In addition to our work in Space Policy and Space Education and Outreach, the Space Generation also organises the annual Explorer's Wanted! Space Generation Congress which is held in conjunction with the International Astronautical Congress. SGAC is organised by a group of volunteers from around the world.

Congratulations on your appointment. Could you tell us a little about what the Co-Chair does for the SGAC?

Thank You, I am very excited about this opportunity. The Executive Committee Co-Chairpersons (there are two) are individuals elected by the Regional Coordinators to lead the organisation, and to chair the Executive Committee for the term of two years. They should work on the strategy for the organisation. In addition they should mentor, assist and coordinate the activities of the Regional Coordinators towards meeting the objectives of the organisation and the current work plan as well. They coordinate and oversee the work of the Executive Office and any other appointed officers, working groups or standing committees established by the organisation. Most importantly the Chairpersons should be highly active within the organisation, oversee all its activities and represent the organisation to the best of their abilities. SGAC is a wonderful organisation with high potential and I feel highly privileged to be one of its leaders.