Press Release

Houston Selected as Site for XXXII Association of Space Explorers Planetary Congress

By SpaceRef Editor
July 20, 2016
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City officials and representatives of the Association of Space Explorers have announced that the city of Houston has been chosen to host the largest international gathering of space explorers in the world, honoring the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing.

In October 2019, the XXXII Association of Space Explorers (ASE) Planetary Congress will feature a week-long agenda engaging local educators, students and leaders in business, science and research in critical discussion on issues of broad interest to the international space community, government agencies around the world, and the public. The only professional association for astronauts and cosmonauts in the world, ASE’s week-long event will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon, as well as to help inspire the future of space exploration.

Since its founding in 1985, the ASE has held its Planetary Congress in the U.S. only three times.

“Houston is the world’s ‘Space City,’ and the perfect selection for this prestigious Congress,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “It all started in Houston with President Kennedy’s ‘Man on the Moon speech in 1962. And, seven years later, the first word uttered from the surface of the Moon was ‘Houston.’ As home to NASA’s Mission Control and the astronaut corps, Houston has been at the epicenter of every manned space exploration mission for more than five decades. To be selected to host this event, in the same year we celebrate the golden anniversary of Apollo 11, is remarkable. What an honor it will be to welcome these space explorers from around the globe in the city where it all began.”

ASE’s XXXII Planetary Congress provides a forum for professional dialogue among its exclusive membership while sharing their personal experiences and perspectives with the public, including businesses, academic, science and research leaders, as well as students from across the state. Attendees will exchange information about their national space programs, make technical presentations on selected topics relevant to human space flight (i.e., research, mission development, operations, astronaut training, etc.) and recognize the accomplishments and contributions of local academic and community leaders.

The opening and closing ceremonies will take place at Space Center Houston, with five technical sessions planned at the NASA Johnson Space Center, the Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University, the University of Houston Clear Lake, the University of Houston Central Campus, and the Lunar Planetary Institute. All technical sessions are open and will be live streamed.

This prestigious global event gets underway this Fall with a three-year STEM education outreach initiative designed to engage local students and educators in discovering the challenges, opportunities and benefits of space exploration leading up to the Congress.

There will also be a statewide “Community Day” during the Congress being organized by Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s (TEES) Institute for Engineering Education and Innovation (IEEI). Other participants include Space Center Houston, the Lone Star Flight Museum and the University of Houston. ASE members will make visits to schools, universities and communities throughout Texas to generate public awareness for the importance of human space flight and its past and future technological contributions to mankind, including the development of computers, health technologies; navigation, communication, agricultural, environmental and weather satellites; new materials; solar energy; and much more. K-12 and university students/teachers throughout the state will also be invited to participate in various Congress activities as part of its ongoing STEM education outreach.

“ASE seeks to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Michael Lopez-Alegria, president of ASE – USA. “Through this Congress, our members will have an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences with children and hopefully to inspire a long-term commitment in them to STEM education. Our goal is to help shape the next generation of outstanding scientists and engineers, so we can continue pushing space exploration boundaries deep into the 21st century.”

“In addition to its obvious space ties, the selection of Houston as the host city makes sense on several levels,” added Lopez-Alegria. “Texas has the second largest population in the U.S. at 27.5 million. Houston is the nation’s fourth largest city with a diverse population of 2.24 million and reaches the second largest K-12 student population in America. Only Washington D.C. features more consulates and embassies.”

ASE is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) professional and educational organization of more than 400 flown astronauts and cosmonauts from 37 nations. ASE’s mission is to provide a forum for professional dialogue among individuals who have flown in space; to communicate the benefits of space science and exploration to the public; to promote education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); to inspire all students; to foster environmental awareness and geographical literacy through such programs as “Windows on the Earth”; and to encourage international cooperation in the exploration of space.

For more information on the ASE and its Planetary Congress, visit The count-down clock begins today – follow us on Twitter for ongoing updates @ASE_Astronauts and join the conversation using #ASE2019. “Windows on Earth” is a STEM project based on the International Space Station which features a dynamic web-based component using astronaut photographs of Earth and its dynamic systems as seen from space for education and public outreach.

SpaceRef staff editor.