Italy is not just about pizzas and pastas. But it is also about rockets and satellites.
Recently, ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)'' has embarked on a mission of making the unknown, the known. What does it mean? It has started highlighting the achievements of space agencies which do not receive much publicity like for example, Nasa. Recently, Rosa, the Romanian Space Agency, figured in this blog. Today it is the turn of Italy which launched into the space era in 1964 resulting in the formation of the Italian Space Agency in 1988.
According to the Italian Space Agency, the nation's space adventure started at Nasa's Wallop's Island in the US. Incidentally, it was at this centre where Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and some other Indian rocket scientists received their initial training in the sounding rocket programme.
Italy actually entered the space era with the launch of the San Marc satellite in December 1964 for studying the earth's atmosphere. This was a colloborative project between the University of Rome and Nasa. With this launch, Italy became the third country in the world after the former Soviet Union and the US to launch its own satellite.
Following the formation of the Italian Space Agency, Italy has become one of the major players in the field of space sciences, satellite technologies and development of systems for exploring the universe. While a global space power like India is still debating whether it join the 17-member International Space Station, Italy is a participant through Leonardo, a logistics module, and also the interconnecting element between the space station's labs.
Over the years, Italy has launched satellites for observing the earth relating to environmental monitoring and security.
As a part of its international colloboration, an Italian satellite, ``Agile,'' dedicated to the critical field of astrophysics, was launched by Isro's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on April 23, 2007. For the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn launched on October 15,1997, it developed the antennas.
In 2013-14, the European Space Agency is launching the Beppi Colombo mission to Mercury. Again Italy will be on it with four experiments.
Italy is spreading its wings deep into space and perhaps someday will launch its own flight to Moon and Mars. It has the capability. The countdown has started. Let us wait for this day. It is not far off.
Italy therefore is not just about pizzas and pastas. It is also about rockets and satellites.