The week-long conference includes a nationwide community day on October 5th, when the astronauts and cosmonauts split up into small groups and visit public events, schools, universities and scientific facilities all over Austria. A major focus of the congress is on inspiring the next generation of explorers in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Austria's first astronaut Franz Viehböck’s AustroMir mission to the MIR space station, a Soviet-Austrian space mission which launched on October 2nd 1991. He spent just over a week in space, landing in Kazakhstan on October 10th.
Viehböcks commander in the AustroMir mission, Alexander Volkov, is expected in Vienna, as is China's first astronaut Yang Liwei and Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission.
One of the highlights of the Space Explorers´ Congress is the traditional “ASE Crystal Helmet” ceremony – one of the most prestigious awards in astronautics.