There are several equivalent statements of the Smale conjecture. One is that the component of the unknot in the space of smooth embeddings of the circle in 3-space has the homotopy-type of the round circles, equivalently, O(3). Another equivalent statement is that the group of diffeomorphisms of the 3-ball which restrict to the identity on the boundary is contractible.
- S.Smale, Diffeomorphisms of the 2-sphere, Proc. AMS 1959.