Leonardo sees one billion euro industry boost from Italy's alliance with U.S. on space

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FILE PHOTO: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visits NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans
FILE PHOTO: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visits NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans

MILAN (Reuters) - An agreement between Italy and the United States over space exploration can generate around 1 billion euros ($1.16 billion) for the Italian space industry, the CEO of aerospace and defence group Leonardo <LDFO.MI> said.

Italy's Undersecretary to the Presidency, Riccardo Fraccaro, and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, agreed to cooperate on NASA's Artemis programme for the return to the moon and other space projects.

As part of its Artemis programme, NASA plans to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 and establish a sustainable presence there by the end of the decade.

Leonardo's Allesandro Profumo said Italy will make a significant contribution to the programme by providing the technology necessary for construction of moon landing systems and some of the habitable surface modules.

"The impact will be worth more than 1 billion euros, without considering all the positive effects for the supply chain and the related industries," Profumo said in a statement.

The Italian space industry currently employs 8,000 workers, of which 5,000 are at Leonardo, and generates an annual turnover of around 2 billion euros.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by Louise Heavens)