Space research is the way forward, says former Italian astronaut and MEP

May 25, 2005

Brussels, 24 May 2005

Space is becoming a strategic business sector, and both Europe and Italy must ensure they maintain a leading position in this field, says MEP and former Italian astronaut, Umberto Guidoni.

Speaking at a conference entitled 'European space policy: new strategies for innovation and competitiveness', which took place at Ancona University on 20 May, Dr Guidoni explained that the re-launch of the European economy will allow for the creation of more and more advanced technologies, and that in this context, Italy and Europe have to act fast.

'Europe has no alternative but to look outside terrestrial frontiers to develop new strategies relating to quality of life,' said Dr Guidoni. He noted; however, that this perspective implies consistent investments in research and technology, to which some EU Member States might be hesitant to commit due to the inherent high-risk potential.

At the national level, 'we need to decide on a political level which strategies Italy intends to promote. If Italy does not have a scientific-industrial policy, research risks getting blocked,' said Dr Guidoni. 'Our country has reached a good position in the space sector but investments and expectations cannot be interrupted without putting at risk the whole project,' he continued.

As Dr Guidoni explained, the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is aiming to assign large sums of money to new space activities in the next seven years. Space technology can grant access to space, exploration of space, satellite navigation, Earth observation and satellite telecommunication, he stated.

He accepted, however, that some Member States might be reluctant to leave the organisation of their space policy to a European body.

At national level, Lanfranco Zucconi, representative of the Italian association of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) warned that 'Italy, even if it has a certain positioning in Europe, is losing terrain. To compensate this trend we need to create an alternative network to big enterprises with regard to satellites for telecommunications and planetary observation.'

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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