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ASI PRESIDENT EDITORIAL ON AIRPRESS

Exomars and the future of Italy's space

Act  two will begin in seven months. The first one, the launch from Baikonur, was a success for the public and critics. ExoMars 2016 with its scientific and technological cargo is travelling to Mars, where it will prepare grounds for the research  of  answers that are so important to us, those on the origin of life.

 

It is a long journey, several million kilometers through the silence and darkness of deep space, long enough to allow us to think how we can preserve and improve our national aerospace heritage. An heritage built on the glorious San Marco missions of the 60’s : aerospace is an extraordinary industry, besides creating profit (1,6 billion euros revenues, 6000 employees), it gives us foresight, thrust and imagination. Mainly intangible goods, but a nation can’t be one without them.

 

Since the constant research of the scientific and technological frontier belongs to mankind’s DNA and it projects ourself to these  great  endeavors. ExoMars is the big challenge of the European Space Agency, in which Italy has invested 400 million euros (approximately 35%, first contributor) making available its best scientific and industrial excellence, like prime contractor Thales Alenia Space Italia, the joint venture between Finmeccanica and Thales. Since Italy is leading this program believing in it since the very beginning, then I want to remind two things that are needed nowdays for the Italian space system in order to help our kids to design tomorrow what they dream today.

 

First of all,  if we still want to say – with pride - that we are the sixth spacefaring power in the world, we have to maintain the capabilities for  an independent access to space. We have to guarantee that European advanced launcher Vega remains Italian in word and deed. Investment fund Cinven holds more than 80% of the shares and it could get a large payoff by selling its shares, even to space competitors. And if that should ever occur it would not only endanger the one billion euros of Italian public investment but it would also defeat the spacefaring Italy, forcing it  to ask – and not decide – to go into orbit.

 

Another important issue is to approve the space legislation bill that would establish a Joint Ministerial Committee on aerospace policies headed by the Prime Minister. Indeed space requires a systemic and strategic approach because involves crucial aspects such as research, defense, economic development and foreign affairs. It would be the best way to celebrate on October 19th the landing  of  Schiaparelli  on Mars.