the woman who wants to build houses on mars:
a talk with francesca parotti
mother, engineer and unbreakable dreamer. one day she met the aerospace industry and with it, another great passion.
What if a nuclear war, an asteroid collision or a rogue AI sent it all up in smoke, blotting out our own fragile existence? As far as home planets go, the Earth ticks most of the boxes: oxygen, water, food and lovely views. But there are risks to be considered too.
Luckily, Elon Musk is one step ahead and last year outlined his ambition to send humans to Mars as a “backup drive” for civilization. Now, the billionaire entrepreneur has provided further details of his vision to make humans a multi-planetary species in a breezy paper, published in the appropriately-titled journal New Space.
Elon isn't the only one dreaming about Mars, let's meet Francesca.
pills of francesca
Francesca Parotti graduated in civil engineering at the University of Florence and continued with a Ph.D. in Material Science and Technology.
Francesca now works as a Freelancer Engineer ad she is Professor at ISIA Florence where she teaches Material Technology and Technology Innovation. She recently won, together with her students, 2 different prizes with Pro-touch Glove, a device that allows astronauts to regain tactile sensation while wearing a spacesuit.
the new space world approach
Thousands of people have been celebrating on July 1969 and probably even more the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, the excitement was spread all around the globe!
- On 20 July 1969, the Eagle module from Apollo 11 landed at Tranquility Base.
- Hours later, at 21:56 CT (02:56 GMT), Neil Armstrong made history by becoming the first person to walk on the Moon.
- Originally inspired by the US's Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union, the mission is now remembered as an iconic moment for stargazers all over the world.
"After that? Indifference occurs because we haven’t gone back" - Francesca ParottiBut we are going back! There are plans to go back to the Moon, Mars and even beyond. In the latest years space regained a place in our mind and heart, we are all excited about future space missions. SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab represent for people now what Apollo 11 represented that 20 July of 1969, a Giant Leap!
extracts from the interview
What do you think about the relationship between Public and Private companies in aerospace? How can they coexist? What can private businesses offer that public ones couldn’t?
"Great question, until recent years, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) was strong, steady and really value on an international level for its research, the effective technological innovation and the precision on designing devices. In the last years, we hear less of ASI, this is because some internal problems occur and now ASI is trying to rearrange itself. In stead, private businesses can come up in other countries but in Italy. Space is business, or at least talking around that is business. We already know that to sell a product there is no need to have a good product but to have great communication. Private businesses usually have excellent communicators and we’ll see what happens."
What are the most innovative materials that are not well known on Earth that are likely to have a brighter future in space?
"Biopolymers and therefore polymers grew by cyanobacteria. This is a research project that I’m following in parallel. In which there are possibilities of obtaining bioplastics, grew by cyanobacteria. they are easily transportable and with a technically infinite production source. Moreover those plastic are digestible for other bacteria. So, hybrid always win, organic with inorganic, a great mush up we can take to space."
What should the companies in the aerospace supply chain address in the next future?
"User experience first, they need to consider the role of the designer as a basic role inside the project, not only engineers and physicist. Designers are very important, I’m saying it as an engineer.
Francesca has spoken on her thoughts on the future of aerospace and what for her are the major challenges that the aerospace industry has to face from now on.
She spoke about the experience, user experience to be specific, but if we take a moment to analyze who are the characters that experience this specific sector you will find out that the globe all is involved. Francesca and her team focused on astronauts' user experience and what they could do to improve that, but, astronauts are not the only ones who experience space. Engagement in missions, training, research, and all the different aerospace-related activities is NOT just on astronauts, space agencies employers or the experts at mission control, otherwise, why would 650 million people turn their TV on to watch that One Step?
The experience around the aerospace industry is lived by all the Human Beings, and that highlights another important factor for the space industry to consider when budgeting business activities, Communication!
huston we have a problem!
Clearly, the user experience doesn't end when astronauts are coming home or after separation or in any other launch stage! Communication in this sense is a turn-key factor for the aerospace industry, to connect with the audience and keep everyone connected on the same common dream. And in the Digital Era, when anything seems to be accessible, communication on digital platforms needs to be prioritized and kept under control. When we kept audience active on space programs we went to the moon, isn't time to go to Mars?
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