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Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain of the European Space Agency Addresses USRA's Members During 40th Anniversary Symposium

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) hosted their 40th anniversary symposium, 'Our Future in Space,' on Thursday, March 26 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain of the European Space Agency (ESA) addressed the audience of professors, deans, and leaders in the space research field from industry and government, including international representatives.

In his remarks Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain underlined the key role of international cooperation for the past achievements in space as well as for mastering its future challenges. Referring to ESA, which federates the interests of 18 Member States and Canada as cooperating state, and its long history of worldwide cooperation, Mr. Dordain explained that 'for the European Space Agency international cooperation is not only a tool, but a culture'. Areas where international cooperation is expected to play an increasingly important role in the future is space science ('all scientific calls for proposal of ESA are open to the worldwide scientific community'), climate change research ('a global approach is necessary, because climate change is a global issue'), and human space exploration ('the exploration of the Moon was initially the success of one country, the International Space Station hosts now five international partners, the future exploration of Moon and Mars will be a global endeavor').

With respect to the International Space Station program, Mr. Dordain remarked that the international cooperation established through his program is a strong asset that should form the nucleus upon which a global exploration program should be defined and developed. Mr. Dordain conceded that international cooperation is not always easy, "but it is even more difficult to succeed alone". Success factors for international cooperation are clearly defined projects, flexibility in project implementation ("cooperation has to be a facilitator, not a constraint"), clear governance, transparency among the partners, no exchange of funds, and good personal relationships.

Concluding his address, Mr. Dordain declared that 'nothing is possible without people' and therefore, as important as international cooperation is the cooperation between successive generations and transmitting expertise to the young generation. Organizations like USRA are playing an essential role in this respect and Mr. Dordain extended his congratulations to USRA's 40th anniversary. Referring to the network of space universities in Europe, where 'international cooperation is already manifest in the curriculum', Mr. Dordain, who is also chancellor of the International Space University (ISU), expressed his hope that this network and ISU could learn from the experience that USRA has gained during this long time of operation.

Dr. Frederick A.Tarantino, President and CEO of USRA, said, 'International cooperation is key to our future space program. The demands of future civil space missions, from studying and monitoring climate change to exploration of the Moon and solar system to fundamental studies of the universe, will achieve their objectives quicker through international partnership. The scientific space research community is already international. And expanding cooperation in the development and operation of space missions will help solidify our international relationships and strengthen humankind's capability to achieve common goals. We appreciate Mr. Dordain addressing our member universities and visiting with us on the occasion of our 40th anniversary.'

Commemorating USRA's 40th anniversary, the symposium explored the roles of research universities in civil, commercial, national security, and international space. Other speakers included: Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 NASA Astronaut, former U.S. Senator from New Mexico, and recent Chair of the NASA Advisory Council; Anousheh Ansari, Co-founder and Chairman of Prodea Systems and first female private space explorer and sponsor of the Ansari X Prize; and Paul Kaminski, Chairman and CEO of Technovation, and former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology. The symposium was attended by the four past USRA presidents: Dr. A.R. Kuhlthau (1969-1976), Dr. Alexander J. Dessler (1976-1981); Dr. Paul J. Coleman (1981-2000); Dr. David C. Black (2000-2006); and the current president, Dr. Tarantino (2006-present). The two newest member universities attended the symposium and were unanimously voted into the Association: Howard University in Washington, D.C. and The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The Universities Space Research Association, established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, is a private, nonprofit consortium of 104 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA's mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote education and policy across the breadth of space science, and operate premier science and technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe's gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA is an international organization with 18 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programs and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. For additional information, visit ESA's website: www.esa.int .