History and missions

Founded in 1951, the International Astronautical Federation is the world’s leading space advocacy body with 513 Members from 78 countries, including all leading space agencies, companies, research institutions, universities, societies, associations, institutes and museums worldwide.


The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) was founded in 1951, when scientists from the field of space research gathered in an attempt to ensure a constant dialogue between the space nations, regardless of political turmoil.
In its early years, the Federation and its annual International Astronautical Congresses – better known as the IAC – were one of few fora where East and West could meet during the Space Race. In 2021, the IAF will mark its 70th Anniversary and, throughout all these years, it has continued to witness history through the remarkable achievements of its member organizations.

The IAF has seen its membership grow substantially following the integration of new and emerging space nations into its network. Its achievements in supporting international cooperation over the last seven decades have been greatly fulfilling and a source of pride, and the Federation continues to build one of the largest worldwide networks of space experts and decision-makers.

The following organizations were the founding members of the IAF and signed its Constitution on 4 September 1951 during the second IAC in London:

  • Argentina: Sociedad Argentina Interplanetaria (Argentianian Interplanetary Society)
  • Austria: Österreichische Gesellschaft für Weltraumforschung (Austrian Society for Space Research)
  • France: Groupement Astronautique Français (French Astronautic Group)
  • Germany: Gesellschaft für Weltraumforschung Stuttgart (Society for Space Research Stuttgart), Gesellschaft für Weltraumforschung Hamburg (Society for Space Research Hamburg)
  • Italy: Associazione Italiana Razzi (Italian Rocket Association)
  • Spain: Asociación Española de Astronautica (Spanish Astronautical Association)
  • Sweden: Svenska Interplanetariska Sällskapet (Swedish Interplanetary Society)
  • Switzerland: Schweizerische Astronautische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (Swiss Astronautical Association)
  • United Kingdom: British Interplanetary Society
  • United States: American Rocket Society, Detroit Rocket Society, Pacific Rocket Society, Reaction Research Society

The IAF's missions

Promoting Cooperation

The IAF’s International Astronautical Congress and various IAF committees provide unique collaborative platforms for experts from space agencies, industry and research.

Advancing International Development

The IAF is building a future of cooperation, development and international friendship, bringing together experts from experienced and emerging space nations alike.

Sharing Knowledge

The Federation has many well-established channels to disseminate information within its global network and the wider space community.

Recognizing Achievements

The Federation’s prestigious awards are presented annually to individuals and groups who have distinguished themselves in the global space community.

Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow

To nurture new talent, the Federation has many activities targeting students and young professionals.

Raising Awareness

The global network of the IAF, and IAF publications, help promote the public appreciation of space activities worldwide.


Make a donation to the International Astronautical Federation

The IAF works intensively to help policy-makers understand the economic, social, political and scientific value of space. Through our congresses, conferences, publications and studies, knowledge is both advanced and shared on how space-related technology can improve our lives. Through the networking at IAF events, investment in innovation is encouraged, and organisations from worldwide are able to connect, collaborate, and advance scientific and technological knowledge in their countries.

The IAF actively supports the development of students and young space professionals. Nearly a quarter of IAC attendees are under 35, testifying to the success of these efforts. From awards, grants and student competitions, to young professionals’ networking events and technical sessions, the IAF both recognises and develops young talent. The educators’ professional development workshops run at the IAC also equip teachers to teach even more effectively and motivate students in science. As a small organisation, we rely on the generosity of sponsors and donors to make these activities possible. Your donation would help young people, especially those from emerging countries, to gain the experience needed to advance space knowledge and their careers.

How to give

  • You can make a generous one-time or recurring gift of any amount;
  • You can give a gift in memory of someone to be used for a specific purpose or activity;
  • Online donations are simple and secure, using our PayPal account.


The IAF – A Success Story

The IAF - Connecting @ll Space People

The IAF teaser