Italy and Space

50 years in business: the lessons of the past to face the future

Rome, CASD, June 25, 2013

They are so many themes, critical issues, clear proposals and requests to the Government and Parliament to resolve that emerged during the conference “Italy and space: 50 years of activity. The lessons of the past for the future “, organized under the auspices of the Defence Staff and the Air Force by the Centro Studi Military Aviation Giulio Douhet (CESMA) in collaboration with AOS and AIRPRESS, and with the contribution of SMA, SMD, ASAS, OHB, Mes, ASI, Selex ES, Avio, Space Engineering, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space AIPAS.

This document brings together the interventions (audio / video and presentations) made and briefly describe the essential lines: pls note that the presentations has been given in Italian while some presentations are in English.

To download the presentations please go to the highlighted links; to watch movies you need to click the appropriate link: please note that some corporate / government servers does not allow you to view videos. (Note: the videos will be inserted as soon as processed)


The Director of the IASD Gen. C. Ra Isp. Raffaele Tortora (video here) and the Director of the CESMA Gen. Isp. C. (r) Nazareno Cardinali (video here) opened the meeting with the welcome address.
An interesting keynote address by Gen. SA Paolo Magro, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Forces who, on behalf of the Chief of SMA, Gen. S.A. Pasquale Preziosa (video here) highlighted that “The space is now a strategic asset enabler for military activity and also for everyday life. It requires adequate access protection as well as is will be necessary to defend also ground installations“; “Usability of space” in both military and civilian fields is of such magnitude that the defence of these “skills” is essential, “also from the point of view of cyber security.” The Air Force has gone from “a first massive use of satellites for operations in the Gulf in 1991, to Kosovo” and even “in Afghanistan is for communications and for the use of precision weapons.”
Mr. Enrico Saggese, President of ASI, (video here) (presentation here) (slides here) declared that ‘Italy is a leading Country in radar, launchers and telecommunications, but “the eternal history of our Country shows the difficulty to be capable of consolidating investments and prestige laboriously obtained”. To take full advantage of the next challenges, Saggese urged the “Italian system” to “strengthen the solidarity mechanism between agency and industry” because “if it is true that our country is among the top ten in the world, but at the same time there are others that are pushing from below, all of the southern hemisphere.” In its conclusions, Saggese said it is now impossible, in research, politics and industry, to consider space on one side and the aeronautics on the other side, or civil as opposed to military: instead “aeronautics and space should be considered in a single aerospace logic: otherwise we may even do harm to the Country .
With a passionate intervention Giorgio Di Bernardo Nicolai, Airpress, reported a brief historical overview of the past 50 years, showing that Italy was, for a long time, world leader in scientific discoveries in the aerospace sector. (Video here) (slides here)


The main panel “Successes and lessons learned,” was directed by Gen. Nazzareno Cardinali. Representatives of MoD, Government Agencies and Industries retraced the past 50 years of Italian space activities and enhanced the success stories and the “lessons learned”. (Video here)


  • From the National Research Committee (CNR) to the Italian Space Agency (ASI), Prof. Luciano Guerriero, Politecnico di Bari (video qui) (slides here)
  • Space observation and Universe observation, Prof. Nazzareno Mandolesi, e-GEOS/ASI (video qui) (slides here)
  • Telecomms, Mr. Sebastiano Tirrò, Space Engineering (video qui) (slides here)
  • Earth observation , Mr. Roberto Somma, Thales Alenia Space Italia (video qui) (slides here)
  • Navigation, Mr. Sergio Greco, Thales Alenia Space Italia (video qui) (slides here)
  • Launchers, Mr. Francesco De Pasquale, ELV (video qui) (slides here)
  • The International Space Station, Dott. Dino Brondolo, Thales Alenia Space Italia (video qui) (slides here)
  • Small Missions: evolutions and criticalities, Mr. Cristiano Contini, CGS (video qui) (slides here)
  • Optical Space Observation, Mr. Armando Buccheri, Selex-ES (video qui) (slides here)
  • Space Biomedicine, Magg. Paola Verde, Centro Sperimentale Volo AM (video qui) (slides here) (film here)
  • Space in Security and Defence, Col. Giandomenico Taricco e Col. Attilio Vagliani, SMD – Centro Intelligence Interforze (video qui) (slides here)
  • Space and University, Prof. Paolo Teofilatto, Università Roma 1, La Sapienza (video qui) (slides here)
  • Space as Service to Citizen, Mr. Giuseppe Viriglio, Telespazio (video qui) (slides here)

Among them Prof. Luciano Guerriero, first President of the Italian Space Agency, suggested to redefine the role of the National Space Agency in light of the new space policy as adopted by the European Union and the large multinational aerospace companies. He also stressed the need “ to standardize the ASI contracts to those used by ESA, the need to simplify procedures to reduce the program start and the management of space programs of strategic interest”; finally he recalled the need to redefine the functions of the Scientific/Technical Council, to create a functional connection with the community of national experts.
The opinion of Mr. Cristiano Contini, Compagnia Generale dello Spazio (CGS) was that no healthy competition exists within the Country ‘s System (Sistema Paese) and that a clear industrial policy to better pursue the world market is still missing.
For his part, Mr. Armando Buccheri, Senior Vice President Space LoB at Selex ES, pointed out “in a situation of lack of funds for national space programs, we risk a loss of competitiveness in ESA”, because “it is through national programs that we are increasing our capabilities, that allow us to compete in the international arena.
Gen. Giandomenico Taricco, from the MoD Staff, Interagency Intelligence Centre, advised that, from a purely military point of view, space should be considered a vital sector for the Defence and Security. It is increasing its importance in military planning and in the international crises management, thus becoming an integral and non-replaceable intelligence & decision-making tool for the conduct of military operations as extensively seen during the recent international events. Indeed, as regards the optical sensors, “the availability of critical locations in the appropriate time on specific areas of interest, which is an essential requirement for the activities of reconnaissance and surveillance it is of vital importance.” In other words, “although Italy today has satellite capability with optical and radar sensors, in particular with important capabilities in the SAR technology, there are still some criticalities, especially in the optical field. This is due because sometime we need to mediate priorities with our partner countries”. Despite this, both to ensure the economic sustainability of current and future programs and the operational functioning of the systems already in place, in addition to national initiatives it will be necessary to intensify international operations. In conclusion, “we need cooperation, but we need also to anticipate future requirements and be ready at the right moment when we “join” other partnerships.”
Giuseppe Viriglio intervention as Vice President at Telespazio was particularly important for the issues he raised. He spoke about the difference in procurement strategies between the U.S. and Italy. “We are under attack by the United States, who no longer buy hardware: they buy only services…. Doing this, they are implementing a policy that will destroy us if we do not react ion time with new strategies: they tend to procure, services for, long period, and they do not care about the infrastructure. Then they resell the services free of charge. … This fact in reality is undermining the market and the industries that have saddled the cost of building infrastructures”. Reselling the service at no cost jeopardises the efforts spent by those who developed and provide it and it makes the competition impossible. In Europe, we established a different fair system: for example, we can make use of the Cosmo data, but if we want provide the service to a private sector, we need the agreement with the Ministry of Defence. A total different approach is within the Galileo: this market will be intrusive and will cover all sectors, from leisure to the positioning of fleets. Focussing on the services and looking at what has happened with I-phone and I-pad whose market exploded at a time when the applications were born, “for Galileo we expect will be the same.” The question is: are we ready for this? It is with Telespazio – he concluded – that’s what we should try it; we dispose of the Fucino ground centre, plus others spread throughout Italy and the world, but we are late …. We have a limited capacity for development of services and applications, and I fear that we will end up buying Apps already developed: where? Again in the United States!” … In Europe, we have some difficulties in understanding the risk: we have some innovative needs, e.g., consider the obligation to track the movement of trains: today we do it with ground infrastructure, while we could do very well with Galileo: unfortunately, we suffer of outdated laws. If we do not change these laws, we will not succeed. In addition, “it is necessary that Europe start to ask the right of reciprocity with the United States: if they are selling in Europe we should have the right to sell in the United States.


The second part of the day was characterized by a very interesting panel discussion, moderated by journalist Giovanni Caprara: a number of key figures in the Italian aerospace world discussed “Perspectives and proposals”.

  • On. Mr. Marco Airaghi, Italian Space Agency, Member of the Board
  • Prof. Marcello Onofri, Rome University “La Sapienza”
  • Mr. Fabrizio Petrosino, CEO Space Engineering
  • Col. Ettore Petraroli, MoD Staff
  • Mr. Angelo Vallerani, Compagnia Generale dello Spazio
  • Mr. Elisio Giacomo Prette, CEO Thales Alenia Space
  • Mr Luigi Pasquali, CEO Telespazio
  • Mr Pier Giuliano Lasagni, SVP Space, AVIO SpA
  • Mr. Armando Buccheri, SVP Space LoB, Selex ES

Hon. Marco Airaghi, adviser to the MoD for space activities and ASI vice president, “We need EUR 600 million to finance the activities of the Agency and to guarantee the certainty of funds. The Agency, he said, must should report to the Presidency of the Council, as it was at the beginning of the agency constitution. This, he said, does not mean that there should be more research, but that space policy, including research, must be decided by the Presidency of the Council, which is responsible to allocate the funds.

Prof. Marcello Onofri, teaching Aerospace Propulsion at the Rome University La Sapienza and director of the Master in Space Transportation Systems also added that as the planning policy should refer to medium/long term because space programs can last for 20 years and they should not be linked to the legislature’s period that normally has a shorter life (5 years). With the Astrium program, in Europe, “Italy is the only nation who know how to manage a carrier”. Indeed, “we must use this experience when we discuss with other nations because we have instruments of high strategic value. The success will be reached if supported by an industrial and commercial strategy; we should be capable to resist to the attempts to acquisition of our assets.
Mr. Fabrizio Petrosino, CEO Space Engeenering: “it is important that SME are responsible of subsystem from the development to the exploitation phases: this for sure will permit their growth. Intergovernmental agreements are of fundamental importance, because good political relations foster positive industrial cooperation.
Col Ettore Petraroli, MoD Staff, talking of the dual technologies said: “We are beyond the Dual Technology: we should say shared system. Only with Shared Technologies we will be capable to well manage needs of all parties.” He affirmed: “Dual shall not be prosecuted for a long time.
Dr. Elisio Prette, CEO Thales Alenia Space Italy focused, instead, on an emerging discriminating factor: the demand for technology transfer on the part of those who buy a product.”Moreover, he added, “it will be necessary to find new ways to transfer non-sensitive and non-enabling technologies”.
According to Mr. Luigi Pasquali, CEO Telespazio: “TLC is an area where Italy started with an excellent progression, but we need to admit that since some time there are no more progressions. New ‘market-driven’ opportunities are emerging in the services area” and “The competitiveness is crucial: expertise and innovation are needed to reduce the gap, and to transform the gap in currency trading. To reach this result it is necessary to assign priorities:” he mentioned the Vega and launchers programmes as possible examples to exploit.
Pier Giuliano Lasagni, Senior Vice President at Avio, talking about space systems, made a criticism to Europe: “After a decade of quiet work, during which we carried out with the Ariane 5 and Vega, I wonder what will be the future. We need in Europe a new launcher but we see Europe blocked on old patterns. …The challenge is not only technological, but also of industrial organization and the ‘European system’ should be able to move more quickly on the market. We must – concluded Lasagni – promote an optimal risk management between industry and the administrations, leading to a self-sustaining system. Today, in Italy, we are in an excellent position. Indeed, we need to move quickly in a coordinated way.


  • Adm. Stefano Dotti, MOD Staff, Chief of IV Dep>(video qui)
  • Dr. Mario Alì, GM for the Research Internationalization at the Ministry of Education

The tiring but exciting day, as shown from the brief quotations mentioned above, ended with the intervention of Dr. Mario Alì , representing the Maria Chiara Carrozza, Minister of Education, University and Research. Dr. Ali, spoke on the potentialities of the EU Horizon 2020 program: he also remarked that Italy, one of the major contributors to the European Union, brings home, in the form of research contracts and development, only a small part of it. He therefore urged all, the industry, including SMEs, and institutions to work “system like” to be more competitive to receive EU funding available. “This is the number one priority.” He concluded.

Gustavo Scotti di Uccio – AOS

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