Spiral Galaxy M81, located about 12 million light years away from earth
Spiral Galaxy M81, located about 12 million light years away from earthReuters

The heads of the world's top national space agencies will take part in the 66th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Jerusalem next month. With participants from such countries as China, Russia, Ecuador, Lithuania, Liberia and many more, the organizers are hoping to combine outer space and PR for the Holy City.

The official webpage of IAC 2015 prominently features links to "Discover Israel" and "Greetings from Jerusalem" pages.

Other participants in IAC2015 include leaders of space program leaders in Austria, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Japan, Vietnam, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Romania, Italy, Nigeria and the United States.

The convention will be held in Binyanei HaUmah (Israel Convention Center) in the capital on Oct. 12-16. The focus of discussion will be the latest advancements and breakthroughs in space exploration and heightening international cooperation. Specific issues to be discussed will include: Human exploration of the solar system, space debris, medical care for humans in space, small satellite missions, space transportation solutions and innovations, commercial spaceflight safety, and more.

The plenary session will be moderated by German journalist Uli Bobinger, and will include Yitzchak Ben-Yisrael, Chairman of the Israel Space Agency; Charles Bolden, Administrator of NASA; Xu Dazhe, Administrator of China’s CNSA; Igor Komarov, Chairman of Russia’s ROSOSMOS; Naoki Okumura, President of Japan’s JAXA; and Jan Woerner, incoming Director-General of the European Space Agency. 

Though Europe is about to begin implementing the strongly anti-Israel measure of labeling all products made in Judea and Samaria, Woerner said that "this IAC in Jerusalem is for me an opportunity to underline once more the extraordinary value of international cooperation in space."

"Space has long proved to be a bridge that overcomes beyond political problems we face here on Earth," Woerner continued. "I strongly believe that all space-faring counties can work together to sustain and enhance international cooperation now and in the future."

Prof. Ben-Yisrael emphasized Israel's role in space exploration: “We look forward to sharing Israel’s achievements in the field of space science and technology. Despite being one of the world’s smallest countries, we have achieved space-exploration independence allowing us to develop, launch and maintain our own satellites making us an international leader in the field."

“While our space program was originally built for military purposes," Ben-Yisrael added, "we are proud of the efforts that we have made over the past five years to adapt it into a civilian program that is furthering advancements in communications, environmentalism, science and technology on a daily basis.”

Naoki Okumura, President of Japan’s JAXA, also expressed his delight in advance of his visit to Jerusalem.  “I look forward to discussing with fellow heads of space agencies the future space exploration as well as the contribution of space technology and applications to socio-economic and environmental issues on Earth.”

IAC 2015 will include 30 top-level symposia and over 2,000 additional presentations.  Participants from 70 nations are expected to attend. Special emphasis will be given to Israel’s contribution to the advancement of space, and guests will be given the opportunity to appreciate that which makes Jerusalem special.