Monday, October 8, 2012

SpaceUp Genk


And talk about putting Genk on the map! I had some how managed to see ever European nation around Belgium over the years -- without ever actually setting foot in Belgium. Of course, now I am wondering why? Of course, if I had known how much cool science stuff was there, I would have gone years ago. Especially to see "The Atomium" in Bruxelles!

 (The chocolate artisans are nice, but just not enough of a draw). In my last post, I had just begun the first SpaceUpEU conference, and only had some outdoor photos of the Genk Cosmodrome... but now I'm finally home and sorting photos properly, so I can truly show the details of the entire event!

You'd never know what a fuss and flurry were going on in the quite Kattevennen nature preserve, tucked away in the forest! I walked there each morning with a Canadian attendee, Rob Drysdale, after we found we were in the same hotel!  And what a beautiful area of Genk... perhaps a best kept secret!

 Each day was filled with formal presentations, informal sessions (even one where the speaker invited children and adults alike to sit in a circle on the floor), lightning talks, lively lunches where no one stopped talking about space just because it was break time, and more than our share of space industry celebrities.

All told, three astronauts and two prominent science figures joined our passionate band of happy spacetweeps to indulge our moon nostalgia, our race to Mars, our ideas for developing technologies, and our efforts to encourage others to appreciate and take greater interest in space exploration.

 Here is Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, ESA veteran of two shuttle flights and an ISS expedition, who treated us to an amazing slide show of many pictures he had taken from space! We also enjoyed talks by ESA's Christer Fuglesang, NASA's Ron Garan, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and the Planetary Society's Emily Lakadawalla.

Attendee  and sponsor presentations covered everything from Scaled Solar System hikes (okay, that was me) to Mars one-way trips, from space tethers to space university courses, from weightlessness experiments to the history of astronaut selection through the eras.

It was all over far too soon. I moved on to Germany for some vacation after all the space frenzy, and then home to San Francisco. The lucky Europeans, however, have SpaceUp Stuttgart and SpaceUp Poland to look forward to over the next few months... and for 2013, there was even murmurings of a SpaceUp Paris! Hopefully I can get across the pond again next year! Click on any photos, or click here to see the entire gallery of photos over at Pillownaut Picasa!