From the Gateway to Mars, the Current Scenario of Human Space Exploration

Gabriele Mascetti Gabriele Mascetti Head of Human Spaceflight Department, Italian Space Agency

Gabriele Mascetti

Head of Human Spaceflight Department
Italian Space Agency - ASI


The global scenario of human space exploration is rapidly and significantly evolving; if up to few years ago the exploration endeavour was a challenge for few space fairing nations, now it has acquired a global attention by many new actors who are joining the game. Exploration is about extending human presence deeper into the solar system; but designing for humans in space implications that make it much more complex than designing for robots in space - and complexity means costs. Such costs cannot be beared by any country alone, neither the paradigm of exploration relying on public funds only can be currently effective. The new economy growing around the space exploration business is one of the driving changes which will make a human presence beyond the low Earth orbit more credible.
The coordination efforts set in place by the most relevant space agencies of the world have identified Mars as ultimate destination for humans in space. As a necessary stepstone in order to pursue such goal, the Moon will be the destination towards which global exploration efforts are being put at present. Only 12 people in the history of humanity have stepped on the surface of our natural satellite; in the next years, mankind will reestabilish its presence on the Moon, in order to acquire the necessary knowhow and expertise to take a step forward, to evaluate the sustainability of a permanent human presence in deep space and in prevision of more challenging destinations.
Italy is part of this adventure, too. Thanks to the experience gained in its participation to the ISS program, and to the quality of the industries and of the research centers on the national territory, Italy is now a key partner of the majour space agencies in this new race for the Moon.


Head of ASI Scientific Coordination Unit; Head of Human Spaceflight Office; Italian delegate to the ESA Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration Program Board; ASI program manager for the International Space Station; adjunct professor for the Master in Space Missions Science, Design and Application @ Bologna University. He started his space adventure in 2002, as Italian Space Agency representative @ the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. He had previous experiences in big Italian companies in the fields of energy and high-speed trains. Explorer in life and for passion, he published a guidebook for mountain bike trails in the region he lives in.

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