The Italian Space Agency (ASI) was established in 1988. It is a national public body tasked with developing and implementing Italy's space policy in compliace with government guidelines. The Agency has become one of the world's most important players in space science, satellite technologies, and the development of satellites to reach and explore the cosmos. Today, the ASI plays a leading role both in Europe and in the world. It enjoys a close and constant cooperation with NASA, which has made it participate in many of the most recent interesting scientific missions.
Participating in the construction and operation of the International Space Station (ISS), where Italian astronauts frequently work, has been one of the most fascinating endeavours. Thanks to the work of the Agency, the Italian scientific community has recorded unprecedented successes in astrophysics and cosmology. Besides studying the Universe, from Space Earth can be observed so as to monitor and prevent - for example - environmental disasters, ensure rapid interventions in crisis areas and measure the effects of climate change. Italy is also at the forefront in these fields with systems such as COSMO-SkyMed and PRISMA.
The Italian Space Agency has three operating bases besides its Rome headquarters: in Matera, Malindi and Sardinia. The Space Center in Matera is the Agency's historic base specialized in space geodesy, remote sensing, 'free space' quantum telecommunications, 'space junk' tracking and time and frequency metrology. This is joined by the Space Science Data Centre (SSDC), a research infrastructure dedicated to scientific operations, data processing, data storage and distribution. It provides support for scientific space missions in which Italy is involved. The oldest Center is the 'Luigi Broglio' Space Centre in Malindi, Kenya, from where the Italian space activity first began. Born as a launch site, the Malindi base has become, through its ground segment, a center for receiving data and tracking satellites. The third and latest ASI Center is the Sardinia Deep Space Antenna (SDSA), the scientific unit near Cagliari, which is part of NASA's Deep Space Network . The SDSA can provide support services for interplanetary and lunar missions and promote the development of radio-science activities.Italy, through the Italian Space Agency and the national industrial sector, also continues to develop a tradition of research in space propulsion, in particular, it plays the lead in the European VEGA program, the Italian-designed launcher.
However, it should be noted that space today is no longer just an extraordinary research sector, but also a major economic opportunity. The market for telecommunications and satellite navigation - to name but one field of application - is constantly expanding, and the ASI, with its experience in building and launching satellites into orbit, is working to make sure that Italy stands ready to seize that opportunity. From fundamental questions on the understanding of the Universe and the origin of life, to the experimentation of new technologies, Space today more than ever appears to be the place from which humankind should broaden its cultural horizon, raise its awareness and guarantee a better future on Earth. Thanks to the Italian Space Agency, Italy is at the forefront of this exemplary human endeavour.