Journey to the stars

From Milan to Houston: three young students at the International Space University

Elisabetta Marrucci, Matteo Rossi and Giorgia Rota, three talented students from Politecnico di Milano and members of PoliSpace, have achieved an incredible milestone by earning a spot in the prestigious Space Studies Program (SSP) at the International Space University (ISU) in Houston.

Matteo, Giorgia and Elisabetta at the SSP

The Space Studies Program (SSP)

But what exactly is the Space Studies Program? What does it consist of? Let’s delve into it!

Hosted at Rice University in collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the SSP is more than just a regular school program: it brings together people from diverse cultures, with different ideas, and various skills. This mix of people helps everyone work together, think creatively, and share their views, making learning more valuable for everyone.

The SSP also gives you special chances to see how space exploration really works. You can visit important places like the Mission Control Room and practice in areas where astronauts train.

In addition, the SSP is known for focusing on real-life cases. In group projects, participants have the possibility to work on actual problems in the space field and to suggest their own innovative ideas. These projects help with learning and lead to real progress in exploring space.

Matteo and Giorgia’s road to the SSP

Matteo and Giorgia both enrolled in Aerospace Engineering at Politecnico of Milan, driven by the desire to deepen their understanding of mathematics and physics and by their passion for space. After completing their Bachelor’s degrees, the subsequent transition to a Master’s degree in Space Engineering was a natural alignment of their aspirations. This journey allowed them to acquire more knowledge in the field of space exploration, focusing in recent months on the analysis of the dynamics of the Didymos asteroid, the central theme of their thesis developed at the DART Lab of Politecnico di Milano.

But their accomplishments extend beyond the University!

In November 2022, Matteo joined PoliSpace. Initially as an IT manager and after a year covering the role of IT Department Leader, he soon became involved in developing the AOCS of the CubeSat project.

In April 2023, seeking further challenges and growth opportunities, Giorgia joined PoliSpace in the AOCS Team of CubeSat.

This involvement allowed the two students to participate in a competition organized by the startup Leanspace and held in Bremen, during the main European fair dedicated to Space Technology. Competing with teams from across Europe to develop a mission control site for a satellite, the team secured first place, winning a scholarship to attend the Space Studies Program at the ISU, an incredible opportunity for any space enthusiast!

Giorgia and Matteo at Bremen

A community united

Despite the generous scholarship from the ESA, the two students found themself facing a shortfall and therefore launched GoFundMe campaigns to fill the gap.

The response from the community was touching, with support coming in from various places, including the mayor of Olgiate Comasco, Simone Moretti.

To support and maintain their dream, our association, PoliSpace, also contributed to this fundraising initiative by helping to provide them with the resources they needed to follow their passions!

Elisabetta’s unique path

Elisabetta’s journey to the SSP was quite different! Pursuing Biomedical Engineering at Politecnico of Milan, she initially joined PoliSpace’s HR department becoming then the HR Team Leader. Later, she transitioned to the MEEVA (Medical Equipment for Extra-Vehicular Activities) team, combining her biomedical skills with her passion for space. This experience is for her a new opportunity to explore and to further deepen this field: “I am a biomedical engineer, so I have no background in space. The attended lessons give us an overview of all the various topics related to space, providing a general understanding of everything. This is helping me, and I hope it will help me in the future to understand all the different stages that need to be taken into consideration to achieve a common goal.”

What does the SSP experience mean to them?

To Matteo, Giorgia and Elisabetta, the Space Studies Program is more than just an academic achievement, it is a new experience that broadens their horizons, both professionally and personally.

Matteo reflected on the experience: “It is an amazing opportunity for me to have meaningful interactions with experts and colleagues from many countries. This experience not only expanded my technical knowledge but also allowed me to connect with incredible individuals I could never have imagined meeting!”

For all three of them, in fact, the real highlight of the program was definitely the people they met!

These connections have inspired them and built a network of experts in the field that could potentially support them throughout their careers in space.

Giorgia highlights this particular aspect: “Working on the same project with new people from different backgrounds could always be seen as a challenge. However, this program helped us understand how the differences are a form of enrichment that is the fundamental nourishment for the success of the project!”

From Milan to Huston!

Elisabetta, Matteo and Giorgia’s journey from Milan to the International Space University is an illuminating demonstration of how perseverance and community support enable people to achieve their dreams. They have shown with their efforts that passion and commitment are crucial to reach your goal!

PoliSpace is incredibly proud of them and we look forward to witnessing their contributions to the field of space exploration!

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