The Italian Space Agency in brief: profile and activity

The Italian Space Agency (ASI), established in 1988, is a national public body whose task is preparing and implementing the Italian space policy, in agreement with the Government’s guidelines.

The Agency has established itself as one of the most important global stakeholders on the scene of space science, satellite technologies and the development of tools to reach and explore the cosmos. Today, the ASI plays a primary role both at a European and at a global level. In fact, it has a close and continuous partnership relationship with the NASA, which has led the ASI to participate in some of the most interesting scientific missions in the last few years. One of the most fascinating projects has been the manufacturing and the activity of the International Space Station, where Italian astronauts are at home.

Thanks to the activity of the ASI, the Italian scientific community has obtained unprecedented success in the field of astrophysics and cosmology. As well as studying the Universe, you can observe Space from Earth to monitor and prevent – for example – environmental disasters, ensure fast interventions in crisis areas and measure the effects of climate change. Also in these fields, Italy is at the forefront with systems such as COSMO-SkyMed and PRISMA.

In addition to the headquarters, located in Rome, there are the operation centres in Matera, Malindi and Sardinia. The ASI Space Centre is the historic spaceport, which deals with space geodesy, remote sensing, “free space” quantum telecommunications, tracking of “space rubbish” and time and frequency metrology. To this is added the Space Science Data Center (SSDC), a research infrastructure dedicated to scientific operations and data processing, storage, and distribution, whose goal is to provide support to the scientific space missions in which Italy is involved. The oldest is the “Luigi Broglio” Space Centre in Malindi, Kenya, where the Italian space activity has started. It was born as a launching site and today, through the ground segment, is a ground-based data reception and satellite control center. The last to be born, in chronological order, is the Sardinia Deep Space Antenna (SDSA), the scientific unit near Cagliari, which has become operational in the context of the NASA’s Deep Space Network and is capable of offering support services for lunar and interplanetary missions and allow the development of radio science activities.

Italy, through the ASI and the national industry, also continues a research tradition in the field of space propulsion, in particular as the leader of the European programme for the VEGA, the launcher designed in Italy. However, today Space is no longer just an exceptional research sector, but is also an important economic opportunity. The market of satellite telecommunications and navigation – just to mention a field of application – is constantly expanding and the ASI, with its experience in the manufacturing and orbiting of satellites, and works so that Italy is ready to seize its opportunities.

From the key questions about the understanding of the Universe and the origin of life, to the experimentation of new technologies, today, more than ever, Space looks like the starting place to expand people’s cultural horizons, make their awareness grow and ensure a better future on Earth. Thanks to the ASI, Italy is in the forefront in this exemplary human endeavor.

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