Monday, September 29, 2014

No Visas for Russian and Chinese Space Delegates to Attend IAC 2014

          by Chuck Black

Berndt Freuerbacker. Apologetic. Photo c/o IAF.
The Canadian Press is reporting on "an apparent refusal to grant visas to the most senior Russian and Chinese delegates at a prestigious international astronautical conference."

The 65th International Astronautical Congress (IAC2014), which began today in Toronto, Ontario, traditionally includes the participation of the heads of the largest national space agencies, including International Space Station (ISS) partner Russia and growing space powerhouse China, which has space cooperation agreements with Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, India, Italy, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries.

But according to the September 29th, 2014 Canadian Press article, "No visas for heads of Russian, Chinese space agencies to attend major conference," senior members of both the Chinese and Russian delegation were refused entry into Canada to participate in the event.

James Moore. Left early. Photo c/o HuffPo.
IAC2014 was expected to include the participation of both Denis Lyskov, the government secretary and deputy head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) and Xu Dazhe, the administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

But neither attended the sessions and neither seemed able to send replacements.

According to International Astronautical Federation (IAF) past president Berndt Feuerbacher, who was moderating a session featuring the heads of several other space agencies, "they were foreseen to be here with us, they have been with us in the past, and they will be with us in the future."

It is just unfortunate, due to problems especially in the visa area, that we couldn't have these delegations here. I apologize for this,” he said.

Walt Natynczyk. Perplexed. Photo c/o author. 
Attending the event were Charles Bolden, the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Jean-Jacques Dordain, the director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), Francisco Javier Mendieta, the head of the Agencia Espacial Mexicana, Walter Natynczyk, the president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Naoki Okumura, the president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and K. Radhakrishnan, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Industry Minister James Moore, who gave a presentation earlier in the day at the IAC 2014 opening ceremonies, was unavailable for comment.

CSA president Natynczyk was also at a loss to explain what had happened and said he said he had only been alerted to the problem over the last forty eight hours. “Before I come to any conclusions, I would like to know exactly how it transpired,” he said.

Natynczyk did offer a "tip of the hat" to the organizers of the event, which included Geoffrey Languedoc, the executive director of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI), Ron Holdway, the chair of the IAC2014 organizing committee and Virendra Jha, the co-chair of the international program committee.

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