Italian space agency signs MoU for Expo 2020 Dubai role

Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI), the Italian space agency, and the General Commissioner of Italy for Expo 2020 Dubai, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between their two entities.

The MoU encompasses the challenges of the space economy, the prospects for the aerospace sector and the value of international cooperation for both the ASI and the Italian presence at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The MoU’s signing ceremony was held in Rome, Italy, on May 13, 2021, and featured live and as a hybrid event.

The theme of the MoU is ‘Space connects People’, a derivative of the Italy Pavilion’s theme of ‘Beauty connects People’ for Expo 2020 Dubai.

The partnership also encompasses Earth observation, as well as sustainability and safety in life sciences, marine sciences and precision agriculture.

The MoU also seeks to encourage skills and activities involving quantum telecommunications and the tracking of space debris.Expo 2020 Dubai, which will host a space thematic week scheduled from October 17-23, 2021, represents a unique opportunity for Italian space companies, universities and research centres, to create scientific and cultural synergies and collaborations with other nations.

In addition to space themed events, the Italy Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will also feature space themed installations during the six-month period of the World Expo, while also highlighting Italy’s own achievements in the space and aerospace sectors. 

In particular, visitors to the Italy Pavilion will be able to encounter the Italian-built ExoMars 2022 missions robotic drill designed and engineered to search for traces of present or past life in the subsoil of Mars.

Also on display will be a hydrogen atomic clock, and Galileo – the heart of the European satellite navigation and positioning system, created in Italy by Leonardo and developed in association with ASI.

ASI is an official partner of the Italy Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Screen grab of Giorgio Saccoccia, Bruno Tabacci and Paolo Glisenti in Rome, Italy, on May 13, 2021. Credit: ASI TV

The MoU’s signing ceremony was attended in-person by Giorgio Saccoccia, President of ASI; Bruno Tabacci, Italy’s Undersecretary for Space Activities; and Paolo Glisenti, Commissioner General for Italy’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai.

Mario Draghi, Italian Prime Minister, awarded a mandate for Italy’s space activities to Bruno Tabacci on March 19, 2021.

Italian astronaut

Samantha Cristoforetti, the European Space Agency’s Italian astronaut, also joined the signing ceremony live from Houston, United States.

Andrea Bettini, a RaiNews 24 journalist moderated the live event.

Artist’s rendition of the Italy Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Credit: Italian Commissioner’s Office

Established in 1988, ASI is a leading national space agency and works in Italy to enhance space science, satellite technologies, and the development of means to reach and explore the universe.

Italy is the third country that contributes the most to the European Space Agency (ESA).

ASI also collaborates closely with NASA, and has participated in several important scientific missions in space with the American space agency.

ISS partner

ASI was also involved in the construction and operation of the International Space Station (ISS), sending Italian astronauts onboard to conduct various scientific experiments.

Expo 2020 Dubai is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.

Italy joins other space-faring nations, including the UAE, United States, Russia, France, India, UK and Japan, in showcasing their respective countries’ space missions and space capabilities in their national pavilions during the six months duration of Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Italy Pavilion will be located between the Opportunity and Sustainability thematic areas within the Expo 2020 Dubai site.

Italian Samantha Cristoforetti was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009.

She joined ESA in September 2009 and completed her basic astronaut training in November 2010.

Screen grab of Italian and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on May 13, 2021. Credit: ASI TV

She was then assigned to the role of ESA reserve astronaut, which allowed her to earn her initial qualifications in EVA and robotics, as well as the certification as flight engineer of the Russian spacecraft Soyuz.

In March 2012 she was assigned to fly as flight engineer on the Soyuz TMA-15M, as part of the crew of Expedition 42/43 on the ISS.

On November 23, 2014 Cristoforetti was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

She returned to Earth on June 11, 2015 after spending 200 days in space.

The mission, which was given the name Futura, was the second long-duration flight opportunity for ASI (Italian Space Agency), the eighth for an ESA astronaut.

After completing her post-flight tasks, Cristoforetti was given technical and management duties at the European Astronaut Centre, which included serving on technical evaluation boards for exploration-related projects.

Leadership role

For several years she led the Spaceship EAC initiative, a student-centred team working on the technological challenges of future missions to the Moon.

She then served for two years as crew representative for ESA in the Gateway project to establish a staging post around the Moon, with an emphasis on crew systems and habitability aspects for the ESA-provided I-Hab module.

In 2019 Cristoforetti served as commander for NASA’s 23rd Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO23) mission on a 10-day stay in the world’s only undersea research station, Aquarius.

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