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Italy makes itself more Space in Europe

The announcement comes from the new Director General of the European Space Agency at the press conference presenting the ESA activities in 2016


The new Director General of the European Space Agency, Germany's Dieter Woerner, has underlined that, of the ESA member countries, Italy is the one that has achieved the greatest increase in its share

In fact, the Italian government has more than doubled its commitment (+55%), reaching 512 million euro and strengthening its position as the country contributing the third most substantial financing, with 13.4% of the part due from the member countries.

This significant increase is largely thanks to the VEGA C launch vehicle project, of which Italy is the prime contractor, through the ELV - joint venture between AVIO in Colleferro (70%) and the Italian Space Agency, ASI (30%). 

Of the other member countries, the top two for amount of financing provided are still Germany, with 873 million (+9%, 24.6% of the total) and France, with 845 million (23.4%). After Italy comes the United Kingdom with 8.7%. The smallest share is provided by Estonia, with just 900 thousand euro. 

“Italy's commitment in space is increasingly important and acts as a driving force not only for obtaining a return for the businesses directly involved in the sector, but also for the entire economy of our country”, said Roberto Battiston, the president of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). 

“The resources that Italy puts into the ESA - he concluded - represent a capital investment in technological innovation and in the new services for citizens that the new Space Economy is developing.” 

As well as the “members’ share”, the entity providing greatest financing to the ESA remains the European Commission, which will be contributing 1.32 billion euro to the ESA in 2016 - this will go primarily to the Galileo satellite navigation programme and to the Copernicus Earth Observation programme. Compared to last year, the ESA budget has grown by 18.4%, reaching 5.25 billion euro. 

The Earth Observation programmes remain the most substantial in terms of spending in 2016, with 30.5% of the budget. The launch vehicle sector went from 608 million in 2015 to just over one billion euro for the current year (20% of the total budget). Human flight loses funding, which will be decreasing from 371 million in 2015 to 365 million in 2016 (7% of the total). 

At the DG of the ESA press conference, there are still two open issues. In the first instance, there is the extension of the International Space Station’s life (from the planned deadline of 2020 to 2024), for which France and Germany have requested a review of the cost/benefit ratio. 

Secondly, there is the second phase of the ExoMars mission, the one relative to the European Rover that should be launched in 2018 (the mission's orbiter is planned for launch in the spring of 2016) and which could be postponed until 2020 if the necessary European funding is not found. 

“ExoMars - commented Battiston - is a turning point for European space exploration and, not surprisingly, it is a mission in which Italy is in first place, in industrial, scientific and financial terms.”

“If any delays and problems with funding should occur, - the president of ASI concluded - understanding why and how to tackle the situation will be the priority. The resources that the Italian government invests in ExoMars, as in other projects, are a capital invested with very precise ideas on the type of returns that our country must receive. It will be one of the main topics at the European Space Agency board meeting.” The next appointment will therefore be the Ministerial Conference in December.