Italy and Military Space Projects
As regards the field of Defense, the trend of the militarization of Space is now well established. The United States Space Force has been active since the end of 2019, flanked by the operational and combatant Space Command . Since September 2019, the Commandement militaire de l'Espace of France has also been operational, part of a strategy that has led the French Air Force to be renamed "Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace", already the protagonist of important exercises of "space warfare". In October 2020, NATO gave the green light to the creation of a special Space Center, which will lay the foundations for a full-fledged Space Command, identifying Toulouse as the host location.
The Space Defense of Italy is active. In the presence of Minister Lorenzo Guerini, the Space Operations Command successfully completed the re-orbiting activity of the Sicral 1 satellite in May 2021. It is the first real space defense activity for Italy, with about twelve thousand commands sent to the satellite from Center of Vigna di Valle to lead it into "orbit-cemetery", where it will not create any risk for other extra-atmospheric infrastructures.
Space, added the minister, "is increasingly at the center of the geopolitical and economic confrontation between the major world powers and our country, thanks to a wide range of civil and military applications, can enjoy a strong technical positioning international science and an excellent interaction between research and companies ". The “long tradition in the field of space research” is valid. Italy, Guerini recalled, was "the third country in the world after the United States and the Soviet Union to have its own satellite in orbit in 1964 thanks to the intuition of Luigi Broglio, engineer and general of the Air Force".
The Sicral 1 re-orbiting was managed by the “Sicral Joint Management and Control Center” in Vigna di Valle, in the province of Rome. For the conclusion of the operations, Minister Lorenzo Guerini visited, and was welcomed by the Chief of Defense Staff Enzo Vecciarelli and by the COS commander, General Luca Capasso. Launched in 2001, the Sicral 1 satellite has thus reached the end of its operational life. Sixty military personnel, all specialized, were employed at work for twenty days out of two thousand maneuver orders and twelve thousand commands sent to the satellite.
The Land segment is located in the center of Vigna di Valle, activated since 2001 to coincide with the launch of Sicral 1. Since then it has guaranteed a service 24 hours a day, 365 a year. In addition, in cooperation with the “Joint remote sensing satellite center” of Pratica di Mare, it manages OptSat-3000, a “low earth orbit” satellite for Earth observation.
The Italian Space Agency had planned to orbit four COSMO-Skymed spacecraft beginning in 2007. The synthetic aperture radars on those satellites will operate in the X band and reportedly produce imagery with resolutions of less than 1 meter. The COSMO-Skymed system is intended to serve both civilian and military users and is being partly funded by the Italian Ministry of Defense. According to an industry analyst, the contract for the first three spacecraft totaled 775 million euros (about $1 billion), with a later contract for the fourth satellite expected to cost 116 million euros (about $150 million).
Italy spent € 120 million ($ 182.4 million) to ensure the launch of two satellites Cosmo Skymed 2nd generation in 2017 and 2018. They are designed to replace two of the four satellites of the 1st generation, which are currently in orbit. Cosmo Skymed, equipped with a synthetic aperture radar, can be used in both military and civilian purposes.
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