COSPAR Overview

This was the first time that COSPAR had been held in Australia, and the first time in the southern hemisphere in 50 years. Hosting the Scientific Assembly provided a tremendous opportunity for showcasing Australian, regional and global space research sectors. In turn, this assisted the ability of Australian industry and R&D organisations to innovate and participate in the worldwide transformation of space-derived technologies.

It was held from 28 January - 4 February 2021 (original dates 15-22 August 2020 and rescheduled to a Virtual format in January 2021 due to COVID-19 and national border closures).

A message from Professor Russell Boyce

COSPAR 2021 Chair

Colleagues – we find ourselves at the close of COSPAR 2021. In one way, at the end of a journey. At a deeper level though, simply the close of a chapter in the ongoing story of global space research – but a chapter that marks a pivot from an old way of doing things, towards what we must do as the world adapts to the long term implications of a global pandemic.

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A message from COSPAR President

Lennard A Fisk

So, was our adventure into a Hybrid Assembly worthwhile? Absolutely. It is a reality that all future COSPAR Assemblies will have to be hybrid. We need to learn from COSPAR 2021, build on what went well, and change what didn’t. I am grateful to Russell Boyce, chair of the Local Organizing Committee, Iver Cairns, the Chair of the Program Committee, and their Professional Conference Organizer, ICMS Australasia, for having the courage and foresight to recognize that we must transition our Assemblies from what worked in a pre-pandemic world to the realities of a post pandemic world.

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Fast Facts

  1. 3,500 abstracts submitted
  2. 8,800 named authors
  3. 2040 attendees representing 55 countries
  4. 615 sessions, each delivered twice a day
  5. 2,053 scientific presentations
  6. 3 excellent workshops led by our anchor sponsor Lockheed Martin
  7. Over 2,000 delegates were active on the platform each day
  8. More than 117 thousand page hits
  9. 11,000 unique users accessing content
  10. 35k contacts COSPAR 2021 campaign

Alongside the scientific content, over 60 young future space research stars, many of them women, thirsty to become self-aware and to become the best leaders they can be, took part in some world-class leadership training.

COSPAR 2021 has made a concerted effort to engage and assist the next generation. And the COSPAR-K STEM space adventure, including the COSPAR Teach the Teachers program, engaged virtually with well over 600 school kids and teachers and the public.

The Virtual Platform

COSPAR 2021 was an intuitive 3D customised design platform that imitated a physical conference at the ICC Sydney.

The virtual platform was not engineered to be a series of webinars, but rather the brief was to produce high quality television production style webcasts with the capacity to reach a large global audience.

We delivered over 615 individual webcast sessions and more than 1000+ hours of scientific content that was recorded, edited and delivered across six days to an audience of more than 2000 from 55 countries.

Individual presentations from oral and poster presenters were captured and recorded so that all the content is available on demand until 31 December 2021. Partnering with an innovative, cloud-based, global technology company the LOC wanted to deliver a high quality, interactive superior streaming site.

Login was via a single use email address. The lobby was the main point of entry, providing simple navigation to key areas. Once you entered the lobby the focus was on the Science and the Program content. The navigation of the program was split up by Commission / Scientific events by day. We were able to house and organise event presentations in a single space.

Design and flow of the space was excellent and allowed the delegates to enjoy a completely immersive experience.


Cross-disciplinary Workshops
  • John Church
  • Hitoshi Kuninaka
  • Carle Pieters
  • Michele Dougherty
  • Marcia Branchesi
  • Frances Cucinotta

What it's like to work on the M20202 Mars Mission

Dr Adrian Brown Deputy Program Scientist, M2020 Missio, NASA

55 Countries
615 Webcasts

Pre-recorded & Simu-live with live text chat and video Q&A

  • Machine Learning for Space Sciences
  • Autonomy for Future Space Science Missions
  • Cloud Computing for Space Research


What Would You Do? Law and Ethics in Space

The Sky is not the limit: Australia's Future in Space Science

Space Agency Roundtable

This event is very important for COSPAR and its stakeholders, with participants from 11 Heads of Agencies from around the world. Planning was based around finding an optimal time slot for everyone.

  • Hazards and challenges of climate change and relevant space observations.
  • Observations and initiatives required for the forecasting of space weather.
  • Scientists-industry relationships and the challenges of emerging private actors.
  • Opportunities and projects for the sustainable use of small satellites for space research.
  • International cooperation in planetary exploration, astrophysics, and human space exploration.

Public Lecture

What it's like to work on the M2020 Mars Mission

Dr Adrian Brown
Deputy Program Scientist, M2020 Mission, NASA

Cross Disciplinary Workshops

Our Anchor Sponsor, Lockheed Martin, continued to support COSPAR 2021 providing an even greater opportunity for participation in their Cross-Disciplinary Workshop Program.


Unique Views Total Views
Cloud Computing for Space Sciences 58 88
Autonomy for Future Space Science Missions 39 67
Machine Learning for Space Sciences 86 153


Carlé McGetchin Pieters
Brown University, USA

Francis A. Cucinotta
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA

Hitoshi Kuninaka
Astronautical Science (ISAS), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Kanagawa, Japan, The Hayabusa II mission and return

John Church
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Marcia Branchesi
Gran Sasso Science Institute and INFN-LNGS, L'Aquila, Italy

Michele Dougherty
Professor of Space Physics at Imperial College London (UK)

Adrian Brown
Deputy Program Scientist, M2020 Mission, NASA


A total of 60 custom e-zines were sent to an average of 8,971 recipients during the COSPAR 2021 campaign, maintaining an average of 6% open rate against a medium of 2%. By far the highest viewed ezine was The Program at a Glance is now in orbit with an outstanding 16% open rate and over 5,500+ opens.

Closely followed by our Australia Week Campaign “COSPAR 2021 Launches During Australia Day Week” and “Spend Summer Down Under'' both rating over 5,000 opens. The Vision is Endless rated the highest distribution, highest opens and percentage of time viewed.

The e-zine feature a film creative preparing for the switch from in person to hybrid. Analytics confirm that the USA sat firmly and consistently in first place followed by Australia and China, France and Japan. Germany, UK Russia and Italy rounding up the main engagers through this medium. Final registration and attendance numbers reflect the same trend and correlated with the accepted abstracts.

COSPAR In-Person

With the Investment from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, COSPAR organisers undertook five in person marketing activities internationally. Each activity had a customised marketing campaign, collateral and promotional materials.

These activities have been previously reported separately, however we have included a short a summary on the progression of the in person marketing campaign:

Launch at 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Adelaide Australia (25 – 29 September 2017)

Attendance at 69th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Bremen, Germany (1-5 October 2018)

Attendance at Space Symposium, Colorado Springs (15 April 2019)

Attendance at Asia Oceania Geosciences Symposium (AOGS) (28 July – 2 August 2019)

Attendance at 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Washington, USA (1 - 5 October 2019)

Attendance at 4th COSPAR Symposium on Small Satellites for Science and Global Sustainable Development, Tel Aviv, Israel (15 November 2019)


Hosted by

Anchor Partner

Major Supporters




"Dear Russell and Iver!

Great show this morning, great opening!

Thanks for doing all this for COSPAR!"

Best wishes,

"Hi Selina,

Am reaching out to you to say thanks and to encourage you. In my opinion, the program is extremely good, and the fact that it is so good is due to a very large extent to you and to your efforts (and your people skills, dealing with certain characters) over the last months and even years."

Russ Boyce

"Hi Lili,

Congratulations on the opening / awards ceremony. Very nicely done and much more colorful and snappy than the usual on site affairs, in my opinion.

Many thanks for all your efforts in the matter."


Final Results

The Covid-19 pandemic forced deferral of the Sydney Assembly from August 2020 to January 2021 and redesign of the presentation mode from 100% in-person to either 100% virtual presentation or a mix of virtual and in-person presentations (COSPAR-2021-Hybrid).

During the events of the week, we all engaged with an extremely high quality COSPAR scientific program. There were 615 sessions, each delivered twice; over 2,000 scientific presentations; and three excellent workshops led by our anchor sponsor Lockheed Martin. Over 2,000 delegates were active on the platform each day. From the app, there have been over 2,000 downloads, more than 117 thousand page hits, and the number keeps rising. The assembly website has had over unique 11,000 users accessing content.