National Space Day: the Air Force participates by looking at the Ax-3 mission

(To air Force)

Last week, which saw the celebration - on December 16th - of National Space Day, the Air Force was engaged in events on the topic, with a focus on participation in the Axiom Space Ax-3 mission.

The two-day event (13 and 14 December) entitled Italian Space Days at the Embassy, which was attended by the air team general Antonio Conserva, logistics commander of the Air Force, who - speaking at the launch event of the project Italian Food in Space – he recalled: “The Air Force has been engaged in human space flight for years, and the agreement undertaken in 2018 with Axiom Space was certainly in the wake of this tradition. The Air Force's institutional task is to guarantee the protection of national airspace and unfortunately, alongside the opportunities offered by the space economy, there are also safety problems for space traffic, which has become increasingly densely populated. In this context, with the Ax-3 mission, Colonel Villadei will carry out a series of activities on the International Space Station (ISS) in order to improve our surveillance capacity of space objects in orbit. We are very happy that there is a synergy with the country system – continued the general. Keep –, with institutions, research centers, industries, and we are sure that participation in the Ax-3 mission will allow us to fully seize the opportunities offered by future developments in the sector. We are honored that Italy is back in space thanks also to the Air Force, which always leads the way towards the future". The general also took the opportunity to present the Italian name and logo of the mission: “Voluntas, which wants to describe the iron will to be in Space, of Italy, of the Defense and of the Air Force, but also the aspiration of Colonel Villadei, who trained in the best possible way to complete this important mission”.

Colonel Walter Villadei himself took part in the press conference, in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry (MASAF) Francesco Lollobrigida, and thanking all the colleagues and professionals who are working on the mission on a daily basis, he highlighted that “Astronauts are part of a much larger team. If an astronaut goes in flight it is because there is a country that has a vision and a history, and this is perhaps the first ever mission that Italy undertakes in the new space economy, bringing together the Ministry of Defense, MIMIT (Ministry of Businesses and Made in Italy), MASAF, the Presidency of the Council, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the national industry. All of this has been possible thanks to the history and relationships we have built with NASA and thanks to Axiom Space and the vision that the United States is developing. We will bring experiments coming from the Air Force, ASI and industry into orbit and we will continue to carry out experiments even after returning from the mission, demonstrating the opportunities that this type of mission can offer".

On 13 December, the "Ax-3 Mission Overview Press Conference" was held, in which Colonel Valerio Anastasi, general space office of the Air Force General Staff, made an analysis of the state of preparation of the aspects of the mission related to Italian participation and underlined that this will also be the opportunity - through live connections from the ISS - to bring male and female high school and university students, both civilian and military, even closer to the so-called STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine ).

A video call will also arrive from Space addressed to young patients in a pediatric department, in the hope that, by asking their questions to the astronaut in orbit, they can spend peaceful moments and dream of a future beyond the disease.

In a meeting with Colonel Villadei on the progress of the mission preparations, the Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said: "Italy, with Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission, will write another page of history in space: Colonel Villadei, on board the International Space Station, will represent the Defense and all Italians".

Also last week, the Air Force was part of the national delegation that participated for the first time in the Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Initiative Principals Board, with the officialization by the Ministry of Defense of Italy's membership in this important international forum which, since 2020, has brought together Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States to discuss on topics related to Space and the dangers and opportunities associated with it.