by Matt Goss, Xu Haijing
ADELAIDE, Australia, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- The 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), a five-day conference devoted to discussing innovation and advances in the space industry, began in Adelaide on Monday.
The congress, which runs until Friday, has drawn more than 4,000 industry delegates from around the world to the South Australian capital.
Notable attenders include former astronaut, and second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, and technology entrepreneur Elon Musk who is expected to announce that his company, SpaceX, is planning to send a manned spacecraft to the moon and Mars.
United States defence giant Lockheed Martin is also expected to announce its plans to land a person on Mars by 2028, in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States.
Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), officially opened the congress with a welcome message on Monday morning, saying it was incumbent on governments to help foster innovation in the space industry.
"The theme of this year is Unlocking Imagination, Fostering Innovation and Strengthening Security. Adelaide is an innovative city full of start-ups and fired by an entrepreneurial spirit," Le Gall said.
"For innovation to grow, imagination and a creative mindset are necessary, but policies that support entrepreneurs are just as important. I look forward here to reflecting on how we can create a suitable environment to foster innovation in the space industry."
More than 100 delegates from China National Space Administration, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Beihang University and other institutions attended the conference and the accompanying exhibition.
Tian Yulong, Secretary General of China National Space Administration, told Xinhua that the Chinese delegation would like to take this opportunity to showcase China's achievements in space science and technology and exchange ideas with counterparts around the world.
Michael Davis, Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, said that he was excited about Australia's potential within the space industry.
"The Australian space sector is enjoying rapid growth and we hope you will meet some of our new space entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of the dramatic changes in the cost of accessing space to build new businesses and offer new services, as well as our more established space industry members," Davis told the congress.
The Australian government used the opening of the congress on Monday to announce the formation of a national space agency.
"Australia recognizes the benefits of a strong space industry ... We wanted to ensure we were harnessing the full potential in this sector," said Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham when officially announcing the decision on behalf of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Michaelia Cash, the acting Science and Industry Minister, said that Australia needed to be a part of the global space industry boom.
"A national space agency will ensure we have a strategic long-term plan that supports the development and application of space technologies and grows our domestic space industry," Cash said.
The IAC is the world's largest annual gathering of space professionals and its parent organization is the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) that is based in Paris.
The International Aeronautical Congress has been held every year since 1950. The five themes of IAC are Science and Exploration, Applications and Operations, Technology, Infrastructure and, Space and Society.