Teodoro Valente, the president of the Italian Space Agency, was in DC last week on a mission to look for additional areas of cooperation between the Italian space sector and American space companies.
During his visit to the US, he traveled to Houston and Los Angeles. During his final stop in DC, he met with officials from Congress, the White House, the State Department, and NASA, in addition to a roundtable discussion at the US Chamber of Commerce with representatives from several space companies, including Axiom, Voyager, Blue Origin, Redwire, and Rocket Lab.
“Italy is open to partnerships and joint ventures with American companies and organizations as we seek to expand our market reach in the space sector,” Valente said at the meeting.
Italia 101: Italy and the US government already have a strong relationship in orbit. Italy is a partner on the Lunar Gateway and was one of the founding signatories of the Artemis Accords.
In July, after a meeting between President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the two nations released a joint statement that established a “new space dialogue” aimed at facilitating more industrial cooperation between Italy and the US.
“The United States and Italy recognize the importance of addressing space threats through norms, rules, and principles of responsible behaviors, and welcome innovative new commercial space partnerships, including to advance human spaceflight,” the statement said. “Both sides look to encourage further space-related investments, and industrial collaboration, including on commercial space stations.”
Top priorities: Valente, who has been leading the Italian Space Agency for less than five months, said his top priorities include:
- Boosting the nation’s Earth observation capabilities
- Focusing on space exploration of the Moon and Mars, in addition to partnering with NASA on human spaceflight
- Emphasizing science and research opportunities in orbit, including on new materials, AI and additive manufacturing
To do all of this, Valente said the government investment in the space domain has doubled in the past year.
Biggest challenges: One of the biggest challenges facing Italy’s space program is something the US faces as well: justifying to citizens why investing taxpayer dollars in space is so important, especially with so many other problems to address. Valente said the Italian government is working on doing a better job explaining the benefits of boosting investment in space.
“One of the main issues that I put on the table is my belief…that we need to be all together more communicative towards our people, towards our citizens,” he said.