The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is one of the world’s most important aerospace events, scheduled to be held from 12-14 October, in virtual mode this year.
One of the themes to be discussed during the conference is the return to the moon, a project involving European Space Agency (ESA) and its international partners. Among the Young Professionals invited as speakers at the Global Networking Forum session, which will be focusing on the moon return, will be Leonardo’s Giada Meogrossi, Optronics & Space Equipment Programme Manager, who leads the PROSPECT moon drill project and the Power Distribution Unit of the European Service Module (ESM), which will take the first woman to the moon in 2024. The panel will be sharing insights on the topic of returning to the moon, with leading industry figures including ESA Director General, Jan Wörner, and NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine.
We asked Giada about the importance of her role and the technological challenges she has faced.
Giada, you are a very young woman engineer. How did you end up speaking before such an audience of big names in the aerospace industry?
I’ve always wanted to work in the aerospace industry, ever since I was a little girl; it’s something magical to me. I studied electronic engineering after graduating from a classical lyceum. And I had the good fortune to join the aerospace industry as soon as I got my degree. At first, I did a work experience programme with Thales Alenia Space in L’Aquila, after which I was hired by Leonardo, as Electro-Optical Payload System Engineer in Campi Bisenzio in 2012. In this position, I oversaw a number of different programs for six years, holding key positions focusing on observation and study of the Earth, such as SLSTR and FLEX. This has allowed me to come into contact with all the industries operating in the aerospace sector in Europe and beyond, and participate actively in important events, adding to my experience every day. Since 2019, I have been working in Nerviano in the position of Programme Manager in the Space Equipment BA, where I am in charge of the PROSPECT and MPCV ESM PCDU industrial consortium.
You work with PROSPECT, the moon drill, and the control and power unit (PCDU) for the European Service Module of ORION, the capsule that will take the next man and the first woman to the moon. What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge was designing, making and testing a system, knowing that you could never be sure your work has been successful until it is actually in flight. It’s a sort of “one shot opportunity”; you can’t get it wrong... But the thrills of the launch, receiving the first flight telemetry, tells you “hey girl, I’m alive!” These are definitely unforgettable sensations, thrills and memories, like your first acquisitions. I’m a sentimental person, and I treasure the first picture of Italy taken by Sentinel 3 SLSTR.
Today, 14 October, you will be speaking before the Director General of ESA and Administrator of NASA. How do you feel?
I’m really excited, and proud of myself. It hasn’t been easy to achieve this in only 33 years. As you can see, STEM studies open up the doors to incredible worlds and possibilities which you will never regret.
Register to participate in the IAC 2020 event coming up today, October 14, at 16:30 CEST, “IAF GNF Panel – Europe on and around the Moon and Mars – A discussion between ESA and NASA Leaders with European YP” with the participation of Giada Meogrossi, at the web site: https://iac2020.vfairs.com/en/registration