The discussions for the new European Space Agency (ESA) head manager have already begun and among the favourites there is also an Italian!
Simonetta Di Pippo, astrophysicist chosen by Palazzo Chigi is the prime candidate to represent Italy in the race to become the next director general of the European Space Agency.
Graduated in physics at the La Sapienza University of Rome, today she heads the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa) in Vienna.
Her past sees her as a protagonist in 1986 where she joined what would become the current Italian Space Agency (ACI). Three years later, in 1989 she was named Italian delegate at the European Space Agency for Human Flight and European Expert on behalf of Nasa in the International Mars exploration mission. In more recent years, Di Pippi was the director of the ESA Human flight (From May 2008 to March 2011) and from the end of 2014 director of the UN office in Vienna.
Also competing for the role of Italian candidate for the leadership of ESA was Roberto Battiston, physicist expert in cosmic rays and director of the Italian Space Agency from 2014 to the end of November 2018.
Having won the first round, Simonetta di Pippi will need to face a few foreign challengers.
Among the favourites, along with the Italian Astrophysics, there is:
Pedro Duque (Spanish candidate): fifty-seven, currently Spanish Minister of Science and Innovation. For him also a past as an astronaut in which he flew on the shuttle in 1998 and was aboard the international space station in 2003. However, through a variety of statements made to the Spanish press, he seems to have overshadowed his candidacy at ESA, to concentrate his energies in gaining an important government position in Madrid.
France and Germany seem to be taking a distance from the position. The former has recently placed within the EU Commission, Thierry Breton, with delegation towards the Space sector (difficult to see another important position assigned to France). Germany instead, probably won’t represent any candidate as the outgoing CEO (Jan Woerner, German) has renounced his candidacy for a second term.
Naturally, the question to ask now is whether Di Pippo candidacy will be smooth sailing? The answer is, not really but here are the strengths of the Italian candidate:
First of all, the agreement with Nasa for Italy’s participation in the new phase of human exploration in the solar system.
The construction of housing modules (such as those mounted in the International Space Station) among the world excellence, and certainly the experience and skill of Simonetta Di Pippo.
The next few days will be decisive, but there is an actual real possibility that the European Space Station could wear the Italian tricolour.
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