ANNIE MOULIN

Annie Moulin was the Deputy Executive Director of the International Astronautical Federation until her retirement at Christmas 2009.

You seem to have become a fixture at the International Astronautical Congress! How many years have we been seeing you at the IAC?

I came for my first three IACs as an accompanying person - Paris 1982, Brighton 1987 and Innsbruck in 1988. But I started officially with the IAF in September 1991. I arrived just too late for that year's Congress in Montreal - I instead manned the phones in Paris. My first official IAC was 1992 in Washington D.C. That was quite a start to my IAF career as it was, as well as the IAC, a World Space Congress. This happens when the IAF and COSPAR join forces with the AIAA to host a joint programme of space science over ten days. They take up to three years to prepare - I know this because I was involved for the next World Space Congress in Houston (2002).

What were your early days at the Federation like?

The IAF Secretariat team was very small. Michelle Claudin was the Executive Secretary - for both the IAA and IAF - and I joined her as her assistant. An American called Betty Woessner joined us and there were three of us for a while. But the others left and by 1995 there was just myself and an occasional short-term assistant. In those days, the Secretariat work was concentrated solely on the Congress. Another difference was that email hadn't quite arrived as a means of communication so everything was done by post. Even so, a Call For Papers deadline then was just like a Call For Papers deadline today! An author had to build in the time their precious envelope would take to get to Paris. After these deadlines had passed, I remember spending many a Saturday preparing folders and photocopying documents. Claude Gourdet was appointed to the new position of Executive Director in November 1996 and the first full-time assistant, Valerie Nocquet, arrived in 1999. As the team expanded, the Secretariat began to take on new tasks. Claude started the specialist symposia - the education symposium in Strasbourg being a good example of this. Claude retired and Philippe Willekens took over as Executive Director in November 2005. Rocio Caparros and Thomas Hetier were hired and I remember taking Philippe to lunch one day and saying "I am as busy as I ever was!" even with four extra staff compared with a decade before. With more staff, we were simply more active in many new things.

What are your plans now? Will you be taking it easier?

I have loved working for the IAF and I am still working 'flat out' until the very last minute. I haven't yet had time to come to terms with the work stopping. Indeed it won't. You still see me around - it is the 60th birthday of the IAF in 2011 - watch this space! But it will also be good to take some time for my family and new grandchild, attend the cinema, theatre and read more. I will miss the bustle and activity of the Congress and Federation. I loved having such an overview of the space business, the IAF, IAA and IISL. I have watched all sorts of people become active, participate in committees, join the Bureau and some even become President!