NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is scheduled to meet with partners in Italy, the Vatican, and Saudi Arabia

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson speaks to the media as SpaceX welcomes NASA Crew 7 to the Kennedy Space Center in 2023. Nelson is scheduled to visit Italy, Vatican City and Saudi Arabia on Thursday to discuss current and future cooperation in fields such as space. Travel and Earth Science. File photo by Joe Marino/UPI

May 9 (UPI) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will tour Italy, Vatican City and Saudi Arabia on Thursday to talk with officials from each country about the joint use of space.

Nelson Scheduled to meet with Teodoro Valente, head of the Italian Space Agency, and other officials to discuss the Artemis campaign to return to the Moon, the International Space Station, the exploration of Mars and Venus, and partnerships on Earth science missions.


Following a trip to Italy and the Vatican, Nelson will meet with officials from the Saudi Space Agency to discuss future cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Nelson will meet with Saudi students to discuss their roles as members of the „Artemis Generation.”

Italy has been a long-standing partner with the United States in space travel and Earth science. The Italian space agency and NASA launched the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer telescope in 2021, giving scientists a better look at interstellar objects such as quasars, pulsars and black holes.

The American Astronomical Union’s High Energy Astrophysics Division awarded the 2024 Bruno Rossi Prize to the NASA team behind the project, along with retired NASA astrophysicist Martin Weiskopf and Italian space agency principal investigator Paolo Soffita.

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In 2021 the European Space Agency tapped Italian spaceflight services company Telespazio to design a network of potential satellites around the moon to help with future missions, including NASA’s planned Artemis mission.

Cooperation on space travel between the United States and Saudi Arabia begins in November 2023. At that time officials of the two countries began negotiating a framework for cooperation in the fields of aeronautics, earth and space sciences, space operations and the use of outer space. For peaceful purposes.”

The agreement was an extension of the Jeddah Communiqué signed by President Joe Biden and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in 2022, which „describes a strategic partnership with the goal of advancing a common vision of a more peaceful, secure, prosperous, and stable Middle East.”

NASA also has a past experience of collaborating with the Roman Catholic faith. Ever since an Inquisition in 1633 declared the astronomer Galileo Galilei guilty of heresy in 1984, the Vatican has worked to soften the friction between science and religion.

NASA has tapped 2023 Jesuit Brother Bob McKayA Vatican astronomer and meteorologist, he develops a special device called a pycnometer that can examine the density and porosity of a sample taken from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

The researchers sought to determine whether the asteroid was composed of more than one type of rock, which could help inform the selection of samples for more complex scientific research.

McKay said he built the pycnometer in five weeks with the help of University of Arizona students working with the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope in Tucson.

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