RIYADH: In the largest gathering of its kind in history, 100 astronauts and cosmonauts from 18 countries convened in Riyadh for the 25th Planetary Congress of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE). The event will run until Nov. 10 under the aegis of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah as part of his drive to promote a knowledge-based society in the Kingdom.
The astronauts at the congress will also take part in the Kingdom’s International Space and Aeronautics Conference, held in association with the ASE event.
Renowned astronauts and experts in the space and aeronautics sector from all around the world are attending the conference. The key figures who will address the conference are:
Prince Sultan bin Salman, president and chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA). In 1985, Prince Sultan became the first Arab and Muslim astronaut when he joined the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel is the president of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).
Prince Turki bin Saud is vice president at the research institutes of KACST and holds a Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University, USA.
Khaled Al-Sabti is deputy minister at the Ministry of Education.
Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu is president of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE). He works for the Romanian Space Agency as an expert within the Airspace Consulting Association.
George W. Abbey is the former director of Johnson Space Center, USA. Charles Elachi is director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA and vice president of the California Institute of Technology.
Thierry H. Duquesne is director of Strategy, Programs and International Relations at the Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency.
Soichi Noguchi is a Japanese astronaut and is chief of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Association (JAXA).
Rex J. Walheim is an astronaut from the USA.
Scott J. Kelly is an astronaut from the USA and works as operations branch chief at the International Space Station (ISS).
Randolph J. Bresnik is a US astronaut and colonel at the US Marine Corps.
George Whitesides is CEO of Virgin Galactic, USA, the spaceflight company founded by Sir Richard Branson.
Yang Liwei is a major general, military pilot and China National Space Administration astronaut.
Remo Ruffini is president of the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, Italy.
Charles W. Everitt has been engaged in space research for over four decades. He works at W. W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, Stanford University, USA.
Taylor G. Wang is emeritus centennial professor at Vanderbilt University, USA.
Mohammed Al-Majed is director of the National Space and Aeronautics Sector at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).

ref: www.arabnews.com