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Picture1Texas A&M University aerospace engineering professor Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar was elected president of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) International at the 30th annual ASE Congress in Toulouse, France, on Oct. 20.  She is the first woman to be elected ASE president.

Dunbar, a TEES Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and director of the Institute for Engineering Education and Innovation (IEEI), flew five times on the Space Shuttle for 50 days in space, and previously was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Picture2She also established the Aerospace Human Systems Laboratory at Texas A&M, which is dedicated to leading research on systems for ensuring the survival of humans in space or extreme environments, including new technologies for spacesuits and habitats. Specific topics include human systems modeling, multifunctional materials and partial gravity fluid physics.

Picture3ASE is the professional organization for more than 400 astronauts and cosmonauts from 37 different countries representing five major regions: the United States, Russia, Europe, Asia and “at large.”  The five-day Congress, held in a different nation every year, conducts free access public sessions on several topics of human space exploration, including International Space Station research, lessons learned in spaceflight operations, technical advances in space systems, progress in planetary research and current national initiatives in space exploration. The fliers also reserve one day for visiting with schools, universities, companies and civic groups across the host country in what is called “Community Day.”   The visits focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as the inspiration for space exploration.

Picture4ASE was founded in 1985 by a small group of American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts and has since expanded to include all space fliers from Europe, Asia and other nations. The qualification for membership is one full orbit of the Earth in a spaceship. ASE International has a standing committee on Near Earth Objects (NEO) with observer status at the United Nations and is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). At the 30th Congress, two additional ASE standing committees were established: orbital debris and exploration crew health. Dunbar is chair of the international committee on crew health.

Picture5The 2018 Congress will be held in Minsk, Belarus, and the 2019 Congress will be back in the United States in Houston Oct. 14-18.  This will be only the fourth time it has been in the U.S. since 1985. Dunbar is the 2019 Congress chair. Capt. Dick Richards, retired astronaut and Boeing executive, is vice chair. IEEI is the academic sponsor for the 32nd Congress, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings. Opening and closing events will be at Space Center Houston. IEEI will coordinate the statewide visits of astronauts to schools and universities on Oct. 16, 2019, and will host at least six of them on the College Station campus on Oct. 16, 2019.  Additional astronauts will also visit other Texas A&M and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station locations across the state.   


Photo captions for above pictures in  order:

  1. ASE attendees in Toulouse, Frace at Cite de la Space
  2. Dunbar presiding over the ASE Opening Ceremonies
  3. ASE astronauts Dr. Soichi Naguchi (JAXA) and Dr. Janet Kavandi (NASA) with French school children.
  4. ASE Technical session on European Space Agency plans to build a "Moon Village."
  5. ASE International Panel with ASE members Soichi Naguchi (Japan), Michel Tognini (France), Bonnie J. Dunbar (USA), Alexander Alexandrov (Russia) and Reinhold Ewald (Germany)