On 14 December 2023, the Embassy of Italy will celebrate the second edition in Stockholm of the “Italian Space Day”, together with the main stakeholders of the Swedish and Italian space sector. Established by the Italian Government in 2021, the “Italian Space Day” aims to spread knowledge about space culture and raise awareness among society and citizens about the extraordinary contributions that science and technology applied to space bring to the improvement of human living.
The event “From Solar Physics to Space Weather: a bilateral initiative for radio band observations” will be attended on the Swedish side by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), the Swedish Space Agency (Rymdstyrelsen), the Department of Solar Physics at Stockholm University, and the public space company Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), which will host the event at its headquarters in Solna. On the Italian side, there will be qualified participation from the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the official partner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in promoting this event, the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) and the University of Milan (UNIMI).
Italy has been a key player in the challenge of space research for decades. On 15 December 1964, a small group of university researchers launched into the orbit of the Earth the satellite San Marco 1, entirely designed and built in our country. Italy is known as to have become the third space nation in the world after the Soviet Union in 1957 and the United States in 1958. Today, the scenario is profoundly different: there are several countries occupying the outer space with their satellites and these artifacts are becoming increasingly important components in our daily lives. In fact, we are witnessing a huge increase in the market for launch services and, according to the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), which runs the Esrange Space Centre, a research facility built by the European Space Agency and active since 1966 in Kiruna in northern Sweden, it is estimated that by 2022 alone there will be almost 7000 active satellites orbiting the Earth, more than 2000 more than the previous year.
Every week, approximately 50 satellites are launched to meet the needs of the telecommunications sector, Internet infrastructure, and to fulfil Earth observation capabilities and national security requirements. The satellites expected to be launched in the next 10 years add up to investments of around $1 trillion, a huge market especially for private companies.
Through a significant institutional and industrial commitment, Italy has over time acquired leading positions in the sector at a global level, counting itself among the few countries in the world with a complete space chain of products and expertise. The collaboration with Sweden in this sector has been going on for more than ten years and encompasses great possibilities, especially in light of the development of the only continental launch base in Europe, located in Kiruna. This journey started with the development of instrumentation for the extraordinary BepiColombo mission, the first European mission to Mercury, and has been ongoing with several scientific missions during which balloons have been launched beyond the Arctic Circle. The recent (23 November 2022) launch of the MINIRENE capsule from the Esrange base not only reaffirms our country’s capabilities in aerospace, but represents only the most recent, and certainly not the last, opportunity in the collaboration with Sweden. The project, financed by ESA with funds from the Italian Space Agency, was carried out by a collaboration of Italian researchers and represented the first prototype of a deployable re-entry capsule capable of bringing payloads back to earth from the International Space Station and/or to carry out scientific and Earth Observation missions in low orbits.
The event at the SSC is by invitation only. However, it is possible to join digitally via Teams using this link.