The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) was founded in Stockholm on August 16, 1960. Since that time, IAA has brought together the world’s foremost experts in the disciplines of astronautics on a regular basis to recognize the accomplishments of their peers, to explore and discuss cutting-edge issues in space research and technology, and to provide direction and guidance in the non-military uses of space and the ongoing exploration of the solar system. The purposes of the IAA, as stated in the Academy’s statutes are:
- to foster the development of astronautics for peaceful purposes,
- to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves in a branch of science or technology related to astronautics,
- to provide a program through which the membership can contribute to international endeavors and cooperation in the advancement of aerospace science, in cooperation with national science or engineering academies.
The Academy’s beginning was led by Dr. Theodore von Karman, one of the most important figures in the evolution of rocketry, and the IAA’s first president.
The International Academy of Astronautics is based on the tradition of the great classical scientific academies of the 17th century in Rome, London, and Paris, which fostered scientific enquiry and the exchange of ideas and new information in the earliest days of modern science. In the words of IAA’s second president, Dr. Frank J. Malina, “the classical academies served in a remarkable manner the phenomenal advance of man’s new method of understanding nature and of applying this understanding for the benefit of mankind”.
The International Academy of Astronautics recognizes the global significance of astronautics and space exploration. The members are all over the world, i.e., approximately 65 countries. Recent developments, e.g., the easing of East-West tensions, the progressive integration of European economies, and emergence of the Asian economic revolution, have enhanced the political prospects for international cooperation in space. Cost, scope, complexity and other pragmatic considerations associated with space exploration dictate cooperation among nations; and it is probable that such 21st century initiatives as a manned lunar base and the first manned mission to Mars will be international ventures. The IAA coordinates closely with national academies to foster a spirit of cooperation and progress that transcends national boundaries, cultures, and institutions.
For example, in recent years, joint meetings were held with the French Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, the US National Academy of Sciences, the US National Academy of Engineering, the US Institute of Medicine, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Israel Academy of Sciences, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Humanities, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Sciences of Turin, the Australian Academy of Sciences, the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.