Interview with ESA Grand Challenge Ambassador Martina Caironi
Martina is a paralympic athlete who competes in the 100-metre speed and long jump, she is also the ambassador of ESA's Grand Challenge.
At a Global Space Economic Workshop in Paris, she addressed an audience of high-level industrialists recounting her life changing motorbike accident that ended in a femoral amputation and could have cost her life.
She described her determination to return to professional sport and how technology was tremendously important in overcoming her disability.
Two years later, at the 2012 London Paralympic Game, she won the gold medal in the 100-metre race and in 2016 she added another gold, and a silver medal in the long jump.
ESA has assigned Martina with this very prestigious role of Grand Challenge ambassador because she has shown how we can push the boundaries of what is possible.
Martina believes that it is up to the individual to decide what is achievable and that we should challenge ourselves to achieve our goals.
“Who, many decades ago, would have bet that a man could eventually walk on the Moon? Who would have bet for a person without a leg to win a speed race? Hopefully that can inspire people to go beyond what is ‘possible’,” she added.
This expresses perfectly the spirit of the Grand Challenge, which along with very concrete objectives related to the development of specific technologies, aims to inspire generations of professionals in a diverse range of fields to work together to find unconventional solutions to global challenges.
“Competing teams of the Metalysis – ESA Grand Challenge are called to develop a very specific device but I am here to inspire those people to imagine the bigger picture,” she said, “to be the pioneers in making a step forward in realising a vision in which a small device will assist in the production of metals from Lunar or Martian regolith.”
During the Space Day at Farnborough Air Show on 17 July 2018, Martina described how space-based technologies and systems have spinoff benefits that can transform the daily lives of people on Earth.