Status Report

NASA’s Call for Abstracts for the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC)

By SpaceRef Editor
December 9, 2020
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NASA announces its intent to participate in the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) and requests that full-time U.S. graduate students attending U.S. universities respond to this “Call for Abstracts.” 

The IAC – organized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) – is the largest space-related conference worldwide and selects an average of 1000 scientific papers every year. The upcoming IAC is scheduled October 25-29, 2021 in Dubai, UAE. NASA’s participation in this event is an on-going effort to continue to bridge NASA with the astronautical and space international community. 


This “Call for Abstracts” is a precursor to a subsequent submission of a final paper, which may be presented at the 72nd IAC. Student authors are invited to submit an abstract regarding an original, unpublished paper that has not been submitted in any other forum. A NASA technical review panel will select abstracts from those that have been accepted by the IAF. This opportunity is for graduate students majoring in fields related to the IAF research topics. Students may submit technical (oral) presentations and/or interactive posters. Students may submit abstracts that are co-authored with their Principal Investigators. However, the student must be the “lead author,” and only the student will present at the IAC. Students must be available to travel to the conference to represent NASA and their universities, if the Congress is held face-to face. Students must be U.S. citizens, attending a U.S. university, who plan to enter a career in space science or aeronautics. Pending the availability of funding, graduate students selected by NASA to participate in the IAC will be considered for subsidy funding from NASA. Only abstracts selected by the IAF will be considered for NASA sponsorship.   

Many students and professors are currently involved in NASA related research that could be considered for this submission. Students submitting abstracts are strongly encouraged to seek advice from professors, who are conducting NASA research and/or from NASA scientists and engineers. Abstracts must be related to NASA’s ongoing vision for space exploration and fit into one of the following IAC categories:


  • Science and Exploration – Systems sustaining missions, including life, microgravity, space exploration, space debris and Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
  • Applications and Operations – On-going and future operational applications, including earth observation, communication, navigation, human space endeavors and small satellites
  • Technology – Common technologies to space systems including astrodynamics, structures, power and propulsion
  • Infrastructure – Systems sustaining space missions including space system transportation, future systems and safety
  • Space and Society – Interaction of space with society including education, policy and economics, history and law


The criteria for the selection will be defined according to the following specifications:


  • Abstracts should specify: purpose, methodology, results, conclusions and areas for discussion.
  • Abstracts should indicate that substantive technical and/or programmatic content is included.
  • Abstracts should clearly indicate that the material is new and original; they should explain why and how.
  • Prospective author(s) should certify that the paper was not presented at a previous meeting.
  • Abstracts must be written in English and the length should not exceed 400 words. Tables or drawings are not allowed in the abstract. 


Submit your abstract to NASA at no later than 11:59 PM EST on February 21, 2021.  Please submit proof of U.S. citizenship and current enrollment in U.S. University or college no later than February 28, 2021 to Submit your abstract to the IAF at their website, by February 28, 2021 by 23:59 CET.  For more information about the IAF abstract submission process, please check

IAC Paper Selection: 

Submitted abstracts will be evaluated by the Session Chairs on the basis of technical quality and relevance to the session topics. Selected abstracts may be chosen for eventual oral or interactive poster presentation. Any such choice is not an indication of quality of the submitted abstract. Their evaluation will be submitted to the Symposium Coordinators, who will make acceptance recommendations to the International Programme Committee, which will make the final decision. Please note that any relevance to the Congress main theme will be considered as an advantage.


The following information must be included in the submission: paper title, name of contact author, name of co-author(s), organization(s), full postal address, phone, email of the author and co-author(s). Abstract should specify purpose, methodology, results and conclusions and should indicate that substantive technical and/or programmatic content, as well as clearly indicate that the material is new and original and explain why and how.


Please check the IAF website regularly to get the latest updates on the Technical Programme, as well as updates related to COVID-19 and any related restrictions.


SpaceRef staff editor.