What’s the use of space travel? Every time a spacecraft is launched, the list of possible answers becomes longer. This video suggests a 100% Italian viewpoint by going through the history of the space missions organized by this country since 1964 and by illustrating the inspiring principles, achievements and goals of the Italian space agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, ASI), which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2008. With the San Marco mission in 1964, Italy became the third country to launch an artificial satellite into orbit, after the USA and the USSR. Then came Italy’s first telecommunication satellite, Sirio, in 1977 and X-ray astronomy satellite Beppo Sax in 1996. Those key milestones in ASI’s history were followed in more recent years by the Agency’s involvement in Cassini-Huygens, designed to study Saturn and Titan; Mars Express 2003, which will look for evidence of water on Mars; Venus Express 2006, which will study Venus. Entirely shot in Virtual 3D and featuring archive footage, the video also mentions Italian astronauts such as Franco Malerba, the first Italian in space, and Umberto Guidoni, the first European to reach the International Space Station.
Scientific research, telecommunication, exploration…that is what space travel is for. Not to mention the prevention of natural disasters, the protection of the environment, and national security, as Project Cosmo SkyMed proves. And in the future, there might be much more we cannot even think of today.