A spaceport in Italy? Italy-USA cooperation agreement signed
A spaceport in Italy. This is the object of the cooperation agreement signed on 30 June 2016 in Rome at the “Casa dell’Aviatore” of the Italian Air Force between the US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), the Italian ENAC (the civil aviation authority) and ASI (Italian Space Agency) on “Commercial Space Transportation”.
George C. Nield, Associate Administrator of FAA and responsible for space activities, Roberto Battiston, President of ASI, and Benedetto Marasà, Deputy Director General of ENAC were present at the signing of the agreement. The cooperation agreement with the United States is part of the economic development policies derived from space activities, the so-called Space Economy, which Italy, first Country in Europe to sign this kind of agreement, is pursuing through ASI.
In the United States, “Commercial Space Transportation” represents an important transition to the systematic exploitation of extra-atmospheric resources by private parties, also for commercial purposes; activities previously reserved almost exclusively to public institutions. Space transportation then is a significant business opportunity for the national economic system and Italian companies. This is why cooperation with FAA was initially desirable and then achieved through the signing of this agreement, thanks to the commitment of the Italian Embassy in Washington D.C. (USA) and, in particular, of the person in charge of the space policies, General Roberto Vittori.
The focus of the agreement is the possible construction of a spaceport in Italy, as the President of ASI Roberto Battiston explained: “We should understand that actions like this one, today, are preparatory to ambitious objectives, such as the construction of a spaceport in Italy. As ASI, we believe that these objectives, ambitious as they are, can be pursued, in a context of public-private collaboration, making progress on the basis of concrete multi-year plans. We don’t want to build a simple airstrip, a white elephant, but a place where shuttles launch and land, for space tourism or as a spaceport for the launch of nanosatellites into low orbit”.
ASI President also stressed that “there is an economic case. The tourist space flight, for example, is near. This new market needs areas where to ensure the landing of space vehicles in various parts of the world, spaceports making up the network required for the success of this market. Italy – concluded Roberto Battiston – for climatic reasons, the nice weather that allows good visibility, because we are surrounded by the sea, offers areas that are suitable for launching and landing, with lower environmental risk. Such characteristics make our Country interesting for the location of a spaceport. The message is that we could take this opportunity. We, as ASI, are open to facilitating all forms of debate in this direction”.