IAF & SGAC fostering generational diversity


After years of working in parallel, the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) have decided in March 2018 to partner up in order to further promote and improve generational diversity in space.


The younger generation has everything the space field needs: the thirst to constantly learn something new, an experimental approach in research, the need to excel and impress, an up-to-date knowledge of technologies, and most importantly a more innovative way of thinking compared to the older generation. This is the basis of development, of evolution, of innovation.


Both IAF and SGAC have been working to facilitate the inclusion of the younger generation into the space field. Today, they unite efforts not only to support students and young professionals in their professional development but also the organisations that employ them.


The IAF was created in 1951 to establish a space-faring world cooperating for the benefit of humanity by fostering dialogue between scientists of all ages around the world. In particular, the IAF offers to the young generation:

–       The Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme providing grants that enable students and young space professionals to participate in the International Astronautical Congress (IAC),

–     The Young Space Leaders Recognition Programme recognising exceptional students and young professionals (age 21-35) who demonstrate leadership in their academic or early careers,

–  The Young Professionals Programme comprising a series of events for the Young Professionals each year at the IAC, such as the IPMC Young Professional Workshop and  the Young Professional Networking Events, where young professionals can meet, exchange and network with peers and experts from the space sector, ,

–       The IAF Student Competition rewarding the best papers presented at the IAC and

–     The Luigi Napolitano Award recognising a young scientist, below 30 years of age, who has contributed significantly to the advancement of the aerospace science and has given a paper at the IAC on the contribution.


In addition, in 2016, the newly elected IAF President, Jean-Yves Le Gall, developed an Agenda for his term and one of the most important points is focusing on diversity: Foster the Principles of “3-G” Diversity within the Federation and the Space Sector: Geography,Generation, Gender.

In order to implement the “3G” Diversity Focus, an International Platform for Diversity and Equality in Astronautics (IDEA) has been launched providing a framework for an intensive and open exchange on diversity and equality aspects within the IAF and amongst IAF member organisations as well as potential IAF members and other organisations promoting diversity. On the basis of IAF “3G” IDEA, events of different natures are organized during the annual International Astronautical Congress, IAF Global Conferences, IAF Spring Meetings and other occasions, focusing on “3G” diversity topics such as keynotes, panel discussions, networking events, mentoring sessions, social events, “Diversity” Luncheons or Dinners, competitions and awards ceremonies. The focus of these events is to contribute also to further increase the involvement of and the offer to the young generation within the Federation and its activities and reviving the IAF mentoring programme.


In parallel, the SGAC was created in 1999, whereby states resolved as part of the Vienna Declaration, to create a consultative mechanism to facilitate the continued participation of young people from all over the world, especially young people from developing countries and young women, in cooperative space-related activities.

As an organisation run predominately by volunteers, SGAC has proven itself to be the platform for the future space workforce.


This is implemented through:

  • SGAC’s international, regional and local events which provide its members with opportunities to expand their knowledge of international space policy issues and engage with current leaders from space agencies, government industry and academia. Diversity is at the cornerstone of SGAC’s events with an average of 40 different nationalities represented and 40% of women attendees.
  • SGAC’s scholarships which enable participation of its members in various events around the world. SGAC continues to exceed its targets in terms of number of scholarships, presenting an average of 120 scholarships and awards per year to students and young professionals from over 40 countries. SGAC also hosts Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme awardees to the Space Generation Congress.
  • SGAC’s 8 Year-round project groups which enable its members to further develop their thoughts on key topics of relevance to international space community. With its project groups, SGAC tries to showcase topical diversity in its activities and engage further with students and young professionals with diverse background.
  • SGAC’s professional development opportunities through volunteer roles within the SGAC team.


Both SGAC and the IAF have worked tirelessly to support a goal of diversity Despite their varied backgrounds, our members are all united in their passion for space – and the opportunity to learn from each other, it truly demonstrates how the SGAC’s and the IAF’s mission not only promotes diversity as a concept – but results in actionable outcomes from it that will bring a positive and brilliant vision for the future of the international space sector.


This new partnership between the IAF and the SGAC ratifies the engagement the space community is endorsing to freshen up and open up to the new generation. This cooperative and accessible world the IAF and SGAC intend to form together will set in motion a virtuous cycle of solidarity and reciprocity that will keep nurturing harmonious relationships. The SGAC and the IAF are the embodiment of community engagement where now more than ever everyone is welcome to join!