The first day of the IAC was action-packed to say the least, with thousands of people ranging from bright-eyed students such as us, to earnest young professionals and finally the fatigued yet robust juggernauts of the space industry.
Thanks to the catering provided by the Adelaide Convention Centre, we were able to network with the very same people mentioned above during the IAC’s welcome reception, filled with delicious finger foods and rich wine from South Australia vineyards. Albeit shy at the start, Anuraj and I managed to start a conversation with Ralph Mcnort, who runs an aerospace laboratory at the renowned John Hopkins University in the states. He discussed everything from his profile of work (which was impressive to say the least) as well as his deep passion for space, which runs in family (his youngest grandchild is studying to be an aerospace pilot). Overall it was a once in a lifetime chance to converse with someone so well-versed in the topic of space.
While IAC day one had the liberty of packing us all into the same room to force us to talk to each other, the second day was much more relaxed, with a multitude of talks (about space obviously) which we could attend. Ben and Nathan woke up bright and early to attend their talk session concerning the exploration of the Moon and space system architectures while I attended a midday session on human physiology in space. This session discussed the effects of short and long term spaceflight on the human body, as well as the countermeasures being developed to mitigate these effects (astronauts not being able to walk after they return to earth is a fairly big problem). There was a lot to cover during this lecture but the finer points included a state of the art MDS system developed by the Russians (essentially a compact, full body gym in space), insights into fascial tissue studies and its relation to reactive jumping and finally a return of ballistocardiography. Don’t worry if you didn’t understand most of the things I listed above, I had a hard time deciphering the PowerPoint presentations myself!
All in all, the IAC so far has been a riveting experience, due to the conversations with reputable people on day one as well as some intense yet deeply interesting talk sessions about space on day two. I have high hopes for the rest of the week as I attend more events, in particular Elon Musk this coming Friday!