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Space plays important role for Italy's development: Finmeccanica CEO
by Marzia De Giuli
Rome (XNA) Mar 18, 2016

File image.

Space is a key sector for the entire economy, CEO and general manager of Italian defense and aerospace giant Finmeccanica Mauro Moretti told Xinhua in an interview as the European-Russian ExoMars mission to find traces of life on Mars kicked off this week with a rocket launch from Kazakhstan.

Finmeccanica, whose main shareholder is the Italian economy ministry, plays a leading role in the ExoMars program. Through its participation in Thales Alenia Space Italy, a joint venture between Finmeccanica and French group Thales, the industrial prime contractor of the ExoMars program, Finmeccanica has the leadership over both the 2016 and 2018 phases of the program.

Many Finmeccanica technologies are on-board the 2016 mission, Moretti said. The company has directly supplied photovoltaic power generators, units to process and distribute electric power throughout the probe and the lander and the star trackers, which will lead the probe to Mars allowing it to understand its orientation in space.

For the 2018 mission, Finmeccanica will also provide the special drill which, for the first time, will dig down into the Martian surface to a depth of 2 meters that could reveal past or current signs of life.

Through its participation in Telespazio, a joint venture between Finmeccanica and Thales, Finmeccanica is also responsible for the development of several key systems of the ExoMars ground segment, Moretti said.

"The exploration and search for life on Mars forms a cornerstone of international solar system exploration," he underlined. Finmeccanica, he added, is ready to meet the challenge with 300 highly-skilled people who have been working for 10 years for the success of the ExoMars program.

"Space is a key element to achieving a return, not only for those companies operating in the sector but for the country's entire economy. It is estimated that for every euro spent in this sector, there is return of 5, or even 6 euros (6.6 U.S. dollars)," Moretti said.

This means jobs, and jobs in a high-innovation sector, he underlined. Furthermore, the technologies and tools developed for space are transferable into new services for citizens and sustainable development on Earth, he added.

"For example, it is thanks to the data arriving from space that we can count on reliable weather forecasts, and have precise satellite navigation systems to improve traffic and flight safety," Moretti said. He said that space programs for Earth observation allow monitoring the environment, mitigating the effects of climate change, improving the management of emergencies and environmental disasters.

It is also important to remember, Moretti said, that leading-edge technologies developed for the space sector are applied in many other areas. "Research and science are the true drivers of the development of a company and of a country, and this is why in 2014 Finmeccanica invested 1.5 billion euros in research and development," he pointed out.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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