WASHINGTON -- For space-faring nations, the watchword is "togetherness." It was heard throughout the cavernous Washington Convention Center as the World Space Congress got under way yesterday.
For the first time, virtually every nation with interest in space or its practical benefits has sent delegates to an international space conference. Almost 4,000 representatives have settled into a week of meetings that have the air of a celebration in honor of a historic change of eras.
The opening phase of the Space Age, with the Cold War hostilities that restricted free sharing of knowledge and technology, is over.
A new era in which nations are expected to cooperate much more freely in developing the space frontier has begun.
"If the future holds Mars and beyond . . . we can only do that through international cooperation, says astronaut Charles Bolden, assistant deputy administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Recognizing this, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council of Scientific Unions, the leading agency in organizing most international space research, has just revised its charter.
Professor John Carver of the Australian National University at Canberra announced that old limitations, such as restrictions on technology transfer, are now gone.
Now, Professor Carver said, all nations will participate on an equal basis. COSPAR joined NASA, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the International Astronautical Federation and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in sponsoring the congress.
The congress is being held here at the invitation of President Bush.