The Cryogenic Infrared Sensor Radiometric Calibration Symposium was first held in 1990 and was sponsored by the Space Dynamics Laboratory/Utah State University, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO)—now called the MDA, and NIST. This first conference was initiated to address calibration issues of the SPIRIT III infrared sensor that was being developed by SDL. Participation was not restricted to SPIRIT III issues, and the conference quickly expanded to a more general technical conference addressing calibration of all infrared sensors. Approximately 80 individuals attended the first four-day conference. Within a few years, NASA recognized the value in the conference and became a strong participant and sponsor.

Through the years the conference has continued its focus on the calibration and evaluation of infrared radiometric sensors with an emphasis on a coherent national standards program that supports environmental and defense needs. In 1999, the conference expanded in scope and changed its name to include characterization and radiometric issues in the IR-visible-UV spectrum. Under the new title of “the Conference on Characterization and Radiometric Calibration for Remote Sensing,” the annual event provided a forum for those engaged in the calibration and evaluation of infrared radiometric sensors to discuss calibration issues pertinent to environmental and defense needs. In 2000, the conference started using the name CALCON Technical Conference, and in 2005 the conference was again expanded to include microwave calibration.

Approximately 120 attendees from 8–10 countries participate annually. They represent Government/military, industry, and academia (including University Affiliated Research Centers and Federally Funded Research and Development Centers).