#WeAreLeonardo, in Space with Franco

09 May 2024

Franco Ongaro, our Chief Space Business Officer, shares with us the next decade’s main Space challenges and the company’s key contributions through its people and technologies. We will also discover the path that, after thirty-five years at the European Space Agency, led him to Leonardo.

Space is part of people's daily lives in many ways, even if we are often unaware of it. Space means research but also, and above all, technology: from the manufacture of satellites and orbiting infrastructures to the management of satellite services, through to propulsion and launch systems.

This is why Leonardo is engaged in multiple challenges, on which, as Franco Ongaro points out, it is crucial to be at the forefront. Amongst these, geoinformation, because knowledge of the Planet and forecasting possible changes and disasters are fundamental; Artificial Intelligence, cloud, cybersecurity and in-orbit electronics, because they will enable us to further accelerate our predictive capacity, also thanks to the davinci-1 supercomputer, and create the Earth’s Digital Twin; in-orbit servicing, i.e. missions for in-orbit satellite maintenance, because it is strategic for the sustainability of the Space environment.

In all these areas, Leonardo is committed to developing systems and solutions that make innovation its life source and that today, and even more so in the future, influence daily activities. Examples include the 170 antennas at Telespazio's Fucino Space Centre, which guarantee the transmission of television images and communication networks via satellite. The atomic clocks, manufactured in Nerviano, in the European navigation programme Galileo that help synchronise the time of financial exchanges worldwide, as well as supporting the accuracy of maps on our smartphones. The optical instruments built in Campi Bisenzio used in Italian and European Space missions to improve the accuracy of meteorological data and monitor the Planet’s health. Radar interferometry, employed in construction and architecture to monitor infrastructures, dams and bridges. Space exploration, with programmes such as Artemis, aimed at returning to the Moon, with living modules produced in Turin, and robotic systems with arms and drills to handle materials and dig underground.

Objectives of this magnitude cannot be achieved without constant investment in competencies. Space is a sector that by its very nature looks to the future. That is why, explains Ongaro, “We are always looking for people who are ready to take up the challenge of going further, of imagining and realising things that today seem too adventurous. Leonardo is the ideal place in which to grow and cultivate a vocation for innovation.