In the Spotlight

Meet Federica Vagnone

Engineer fascinated by lunar exploration

Meet Federica Vagnone

Engineer fascinated by lunar exploration

    Tell us about your job…

    I’m an engineering delivery manager working in science and exploration at Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy. On each project, I oversee engineering delivery and ensure compliance with cost, schedule and quality objectives. The engineering delivery manager also coordinates all engineering tasks in line with industrial and service constraints. Responsibilities include formulating development strategy, tracking overall progress and addressing risks and opportunities throughout the development process.

    Since I joined Thales Alenia Space, I’ve been involved in human space exploration programs. I’m currently working on the Multi-Purpose Habitat (MPH) module with the Italian Space Agency and NASA as part of the Artemis program, with its exciting vision to develop the first habitable module for the Moon.


    Multi-Purpose Habitat © Thales Alenia Space

    The program is fascinating but also challenging, due to the many technology gaps we’re facing in returning humans to the lunar surface and ensuring a safe and sustainable presence. The lunar environment is harsh for human exploration, based on what we’ve previously experienced: low gravity, dust, huge temperature variation from day to night and no magnetic field to shield from radiation.

    Strong collaboration across our team, partners and space agencies is a key factor for successfully achieving the goal to develop the first human outpost on the Moon. This lunar base will enable continuous lunar exploration and scientific discovery, advance our knowledge to support human missions to Mars and beyond, and help us develop the technologies we need to achieve it.


    © ASI

    What are you most proud of in your day-to-day activity?

    Thanks to the contribution of our entire team, we’re part of a new chapter in space exploration history. Our company will be a key enabler of lunar exploration. 40 years ago, our Turin teams delivered their first pressurized module for the Spacelab reusable laboratory developed by ESA and used on Space Shuttle flights. Today, having delivered most of the habitable volume for the International Space Station, our company will produce nearly 80% of the pressurized volume for the Lunar Gateway. So, we can be proud of what the company’s teams have achieved. The future Gateway station will orbit the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program to bring astronauts back for long-duration missions. It’s a new “giant leap” for humanity toward scientific discoveries with huge impact for our daily lives in the future.

    Womensday: Federica Vagnone

    © Thales Alenia Space

    Which event in your career have you enjoyed the most?

    Several come to my mind, but the highlight was taking part in a TEDx event in Spoleto, Italy, where I had a chance to talk to a broad audience about what we’re doing to successfully return humans to the Moon. The object was to emphasize the importance of space exploration in our lives and how technological and scientific discoveries impact our daily routines.

    What three qualities are needed in your job?

    Collaboration. Each project is made possible by the people contributing to its success with their experience and knowledge. But it will only succeed if there’s effective collaboration and communication between everyone involved.

    Determination. A project runs for years. And during this time, obstacles may arise, which can negatively affect the team and project execution. It’s important to always keep in mind the end goal, be bold and persist in doing the right thing at the right time.

    Visionary leadership to spur innovation across multidisciplinary teams, ensure everyone understands the value of our daily work, seek improvement in everyone’s skills and share the vision with others. Human space exploration projects are complex, so it needs not only a focused team, but also people who’re optimistic and positive, who can help each other and bring out their best qualities.