A Plan for the Space Economy and a Step in the Direction of Mars
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2016 was a key year in the evolution of domestic space activities. In May, the “Space Economy Strategic Plan—National positioning framework” was published. This document was the result of a change in the sector’s vision and political action, which took place with the decision made in 2014 by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers during the Matteo Renzi government, the “Space steering committee”, as part of the Military Advisor’s Office. Its coordination was assigned to Air Force General Paolo Puri, who had already held various positions at Palazzo Chigi during the previous Monti and Letta governments. The purpose was to define a policy aimed at gaining beneficial spin-offs from the ongoing activities and create a development strategy. Consequently a national plan was finalised and, in 2015, was evaluated and integrated by the various private and public protagonists, including the Regional Administrations and the business associations (AIAD, ASAS, AIPAS), until it was presented on May 2016 and its management was entrusted to the Ministry of Economic Development. It was the first concrete step towards a change of which ASI became the executive stakeholder. In addition to being an analysis of the situation and the projects, the Plan outlined the lines of development projected towards 2030, indicating the programmes capable of supporting them. The objective—according to the document—is to “allow Italy to transform the domestic space sector into one of the driving forces of new growth in the country”. The plan examined the fields in which Italy was involved at national, European and international levels including telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, exploration, space transport and research. It was estimated that, in 2014, the value of production for space was 1.6 billion euro, corresponding to 0.6% on the worldwide scenario, and 80% (1.3 billion euro) of which came from the institutional and private market. This economic value (named upstream) came from research, development and the 9 creation of space infrastructures spaces was not very different from the English value of 1.6 billion euro in 2014. The difference between Italy and the United Kingdom was, however, the position on the global market, estimated to be around 5% and mostly coming from services (telecommunications, navigation, environmental monitoring, weather forecasts, etc.). The result depended upon the fact that London had been investing in the development of the Space Economy for a long time, considering it to be one of the major goals of industrial policy.