ESA in Italy celebrates 50 years of Europe in space
ESA’s centre for Earth observation welcomed representatives of the Italian Government, European institutions and industry on Wednesday to an event marking 50 years of European cooperation in space. Guests including Stefania Giannini, Italy’s Minister of Education, Universities and Research, and Roberto Battiston, President of ASI, Italy’s space agency, were welcomed by ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain.
Luca Parmitano, ESA astronaut and Ambassador of the Italian Presidency of the EU Semester, took part in the celebrations. ESA’s newest astronaut to board the International Space Station, Samantha Cristoforetti, also sent a message of support.
In his opening address, Mr Dordain highlighted the important role Italy has played and continues to play in ESA’s success, saying “There would not be ESA without Italy.” He added that as well as being one of the top three contributors to ESA in economic terms, Italy is also a vital source of expertise. He praised the country’s very active scientific community, and its “very competitive and very reliable” industrial sector.
Minister Giannini took the opportunity to affirm Italy’s strong commitment to space research and activities, saying the country would endeavour to sustain “the long-term vision that space asks for”.
In his address, Mr Battiston reflected on how much progress has been made in space exploration and space science in the past 50 years. He examined how international scientific collaboration overcomes political differences, observing that “science keeps humanity together”.
To mark this anniversary year, Minister Giannini, Mr Battiston and Mr Dordain signed a commemorative certificate, before touring the site. They visited the control room for Earth observation payloads such as the Swarm, CryoSat and Sentinel missions.
Italy was one of the pioneers of European cooperation in space. The country was among the founding members of both ELDO (the European Launcher Development Organization) and ESRO (the European Space Research Organization), who later merged to form ESA in 1975.
ESA’s Earth Observation Centre, ESRIN, is located in Frascati, just 20 km from Rome, and was founded in 1966. It has close links with European industry, the EU and the civil protection, agriculture and environment ministries within ESA Member States.
ESRIN also cooperates with international organisations, including UN agencies and the European Commission, and plays an important role in many international projects. These include the Geosphere/Biosphere Programme, the Committee for Earth Observation Systems and the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.