The Second Planetary Congress of the Association of Space Explorers was convened at the Government Guest House in Budapest, Hungary on October 13, 1986. The Congress was organized by the Secretariat of the Hungarian Intercosmos Council and sponsored by the Hungarian Government. Here, for the second time in history, astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world assembled to share their experiences and to discuss their visions about the future of humanity in space.
The Opening Ceremony was held October 13 where the fliers were greeted and welcomed by Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Lajos Czinege. During the ceremony, remarks were made by Edward Levi, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Academician A .P. Alexandrov, President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and by Nikolai Rukavishnikov, President of the Federation of Cosmonautics of the USSR. During the opening plenary session, a special memorial to the crew of the space shuttle Challenger was read, followed by a moment of silence observed by the delegations on their behalf.
Monday afternoon was devoted to a discussion of the Congress theme,"Toward Space Civilization." Cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn (GDR) remarked that projects such as the human exploration of Mars would be possible only on the basis of close cooperation on Earth and in space. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (USSR) added that the development of civilization is inextricably linked with space exploration. Astronaut Rusty Schweickart (United States) reminded the assembled fliers that the manner in which we begin the process of civilizing space would set the pattern for generations to come. As a result of these discussions, the Association publicly expressed its hope that the spirit of cooperation begun in both unmanned space research and in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program would be extended into future space activities. The delegations urged that discussions regarding the cooperative development of space, especially those leading to the extension of human capability in this new environment, be continued at all levels within the international community.
On Tuesday afternoon the fliers took the opportunity to share the flight experiences of six of the attending members. Vladimir Soloviev, the world record holder for consecutive days spent in space (237) presented slides taken on board the new Soviet orbital complex MIR and recounted his experiences aboard the world's only permanent space station. Afterwards, the group was treated to a series of slides taken aboard the space shuttle during the Spacelab mission of members Loren Acton, J-D Bartoe and Karl Henize. Finally, European fliers Ernst Messerschmid (FRG) and Wubbo Ockels (The Netherlands) showed a film from their Spacelab flight which included several interesting on-board experiments performed by the crew.