Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 16:44 UK

Lift off for world space congress

Space exploration will be discussed during the five-day congress

Experts and enthusiasts are meeting for the world's largest space exhibition at the SECC in Glasgow.

About 2,000 delegates are expected to attend the five-day 2008 International Astronautical Congress.

The event will hear from the heads of the world's major space agencies and look at the future of the industry.

Some days will be open to the public, with lectures from top scientists, a technology exhibition and a competition prize to the launch of a satellite.

The conference opened with a video message from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mr Brown said the exploration of space was a "truly global endeavour."

He said: "In the words of the great British physicist Stephen Hawking, we will reach out to the stars, to discoveries that are of fundamental importance to mankind."

The UK's Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson also spoke at the ceremony. He pointed to an 8% growth in the country's space industry in 2006/7, with an overall value of about 6bn.


Delegates, including a former astronaut, at the space conference in Glasgow

Each day will follow a themed format with Monday being "agencies day".

The heads of the world's major space agencies - including Europe, USA, Canada, Russia, China, India and Japan - were due to make a short presentation on plans for the future.

Tuesday will be "industry day" with businesses having an opportunity to discuss future commercial opportunities.

"Climate day" on Wednesday will focus on the contribution that Earth observation is making in helping to monitor and manage climate change and the environment.

On Thursday, "exploration day" will discuss the International Space Station, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

"Citizens' day" on Friday will look at prospects for establishing a Moon base.

A group of astronauts will also answer questions on their lives and experiences from students and young people.

The closing lecture will explore prospects for advanced space propulsion, such as fusion and anti-matter, in reaching out for the stars.

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