Friday, October 23, 2009

South Korea - Day 5

Our fifth day in Korea was Wednesday - the third day of the IAC conference.

I started the day by going to a panel on utilization of the International Space Station (ISS). For those who don't already know, I'm a fan of the ISS, which, as we're speaking, is home to six people and is circling the Earth every 90 minutes. For more details on why it's so great (and worth the investment), take a look at the white paper I wrote that was just published by the Space Foundation a couple days ago. It's available on the research website: Anyway, the panel was about the types of research that are being done on station and how we can make the most of the facility. One of the cool things about the IAC is that it gives you the opportunity to interact with people you might not normally have a chance to talk to - while researching the ISS, I had some questions I couldn't find the answers to, and after the panel, I had the chance to chat with the project manager of the ISS to get the information.

Wednesday was also the first day that I presented. The presentation was about how space programs in developing nations affect capacity building and development. The idea is to try to measure how space programs interact with different national and international institutions - such as universities, industry, and other government agencies, to better understand if and how they are adding to this web of information and expertise. The more interaction that you see, the more likely it is that the contribution of the space program to capacity building and growth is significant. The presentation seemed to be well received, and I was able to make some contacts with people in space agencies in developing countries, so perhaps I'll be able to get more detailed data in the future.

At night, we were determined to go out, after having been thwarted by the rain the previous night. Jeff, Jaisha, our new friend from the Netherlands, Bart, and I all went downtown (to the city hall area) in search of karaoke. The cab driver dropped us off in a sea of neon lights.

In South Korea, there are a lot of tall buildings where each floor is a completely different establishment - restaurants, bars, stores, etc. all share one building, and the only way to know what's on each floor is to read the signs (which are generally in Korean). Luckily, karaoke is very common in South Korea. With a bit of help from people on the street - using the international sign language of miming and gesturing - we were able to get to one. Unlike the U.S., you don't just sing in a bar, you rent a room for just your group.

So the four of us ordered a few drinks and started singing. And singing. Until eventually we realized we had been there for about three hours and were going to fall asleep holding the microphones if we stayed any longer.

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