IAF Bureau • Special Advisor to the President on the IAF Hub
European Space Agency (ESA)Senior Advisor to Director General

Giorgio Saccoccia is the former President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and is currently Special Advisor to the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), specifically in charge of the management and coordination of the multidisciplinary Basic Activity budget of ESA and other tasks.

Graduated with honours in Pisa (IT) in Aerospace Engineering in 1988, he has cumulated an extensive technical and managerial experience at international level in the space sector, through different positions. He holds as well a Master in Business Administration obtained in Leiden (NL) in 1995. After three years of work in Italy, he joined the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1990 at the European Space Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, covering various functions until April 2019, including being the Head of the Propulsion and Aerothermodynamic Division and the acting Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department, in charge of disciplines such as Propulsion, Aerothermodynamics, Structures, Mechatronics, Life Support, Thermal Control, and managing the ESA Test Centre and several technical laboratories. Throughout his career, Giorgio Saccoccia has been the promoter and coordinator of a huge portfolio of research and technological development projects that had a significant impact on Europe's role in various space applications. Possibly the area where his contribution has been essential and internationally recognized is the one of Electric Propulsion, where he had a key role to radically change this technological sector: from an area of pure research to an enabling resource worldwide for new space application to satellites for Telecommunications, Science, EO and, more recently, for advanced Space Transportation and Logistics.
In particular, Giorgio Saccoccia conceived and was then the Project Manager for the development of the Electric Propulsion System of the SMART-1 probe, to date ESA's only lunar mission. During his 4 year’s mandate as President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), from May 2019 to 2023, the Italian resources available for space activities have more than tripled, allowing Italy to strongly strengthen its international positioning in the sector. In particular, he was responsible for the preparation of two highly successful Italian contributions to ESA’s Ministerial conferences in 2019 and 2022. Through a careful reorganization of the Agency, ASI's staff increased by almost 50 percent, after years of lack of growth. New projects and initiatives have been launched at national level and in bi-multilateral collaboration with other countries. The initiatives launched under Saccoccia’s presidency have pursued various strategic objectives, such as a greater synergy between education, research and industry, a strengthening of the Italian positioning in the world Space Economy and, more generally, the use of Space as a growth accelerator for Europe. Particular attention has been dedicated to initiatives that could significantly boost SMEs and SpaceNewCos Particularly attentive to the promotion and advancement of space activities at international level, he has served as member and officer in several Organisations devoted to space. He is a long-time IAF contributor, advocate, and leading voice, having supported the Federation for about 25 years so far in different functions. He chaired and co-chaired for years the IAF Space Propulsion TC and the Propulsion Symposium at IAC, which became under his coordination one of the top 3 paper contributors. He has been adviser to two IAF Presidents in the IAF Bureau for different subjects. He had a fundamental role in bringing the 75th edition of the IAF International Astronautical Congress in 2024 to Milan (Italy). He is full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) since 2012, Emeritus Member of the French Association of Aeronautics and Space (3AF) since 2017, Associate Fellow of the American Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) since 2006. He also served in the Boards of Directors of the Electric Rocket Propulsion Society (ERPS), the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) and in the technical and Scientific Committee of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian Centre for Aerospace Research (CIRA). He organised and chaired over his career several successful international conferences in the space field.

Mr. Saccoccia has elaborated as author or co-author more than 80 articles published in technical journals and / or presented during major international space conferences.

He dedicates time and enthusiasm to lecturing in the field of space and leadership to Academia and other educational organisations, as support to future generations of space professionals. As an enthusiastic advocate of Space, in his career he has addressed the challenges, needs, opportunities, decisions, internal dynamics of the space sector and established an extensive network with key stakeholders in the European and International scientific, industrial and institutional contexts. Promotion and support to innovation, diversity, cooperation and growth have been at the heart of his values throughout his career. For his merits, in 2022 Giorgio Saccoccia was knighted the title of “Commendatore” by the President of the Italian Republic.