Sydney has beaten four other cities to host the world’s biggest space congress in 2025, in what bid organizers described as a surprise win over well-funded rivals.
The International Astronautical Congress typically attracts more than 6,000 attendees from the global space community, including governments, industry, science and academia.
Organizers said Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin threw its support behind Sydney’s bid and helped secure victory over arch-rival Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, as well as Beijing, Bangkok and Istanbul.
There was an intense two-hour debate on the floor of this year’s conference held in Paris to decide the 2025 host, during which Saudi Arabia’s long history of human rights abuses was called out.
Australian Space Agency chief Enrico Palermo said hosting the congress was “a unique chance to show how far Australia has come as a spacefaring nation” and would create important opportunities for local industry.
“It will help us inspire a new generation of Australians about the possibilities of space, and highlight its critical importance in solving some of our biggest challenges,” he said.
Space Industry Association of Australia chief executive James Brown said the global space community had decided that “Australia is the future of space”.
“We look forward to hosting the world’s most exciting industry in Australia’s most exciting city,” he said from Paris. “Space is critical to everyday life, the economy and security, and Australians are at the forefront of the global space industry.”
Several former political actors were involved in winning the bid. Brown was married to Malcolm Turnbull’s daughter Daisy and has himself been a candidate for various Liberal seats, including a vacancy in the NSW Senate in 2019.