Marco Tantardini is an engineer, a scientist and an entrepreneur. He likes to think that sometimes he has also been a pioneer.
Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Forward Defense practice of the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, since November 2020 he keeps a monthly section titled "Space Race" in Longitude, an Italian magazine in English that enjoys a privileged relationship with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From May 2021 to October 2022, he has been an Expert for Space Policy in the Italian Government, advising the Chair of the inter-Ministerial Committee for Space Policy, and, from July 2021 to October 2022, Member of the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to the inter-Ministerial Committee for Space Policy. In 2019-2020 he served in the Government of Italy, Office of the Prime Minister (Presidency of the Council of Ministers), as an Expert in the Technical team for the coordination of economic policy (NTPE), focusing on Space Policy, and especially on strengthening the bilateral in Civil Space between Italy and the United States of America.
He holds a BSc in Aerospace Engineering from Politecnico di Milano, and received a MSc in Space Engineering from the Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, with a MSc thesis in Applied Mathematics and Astrodynamics at Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. In 2018, he completed online intensive courses in Cybersecurity by HarvardX and in Artificial Intelligence by MIT, in 2019 he obtained a certificate by HarvardX on Launching Breakthrough Technologies, and in 2020 a certificate on Creating Modern China by HarvardX. In summer 2021 he attended and completed the executive program Senior Executives in National and International Security (SENIS) at the Harvard Kennedy School, and he took part to the 2021 Public Policy Fellowship by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC). In spring 2022 he was selected to participate in the inaugural NPEC Space Policy Fellowship.
Before graduating, he worked as assistant to the Executive Director at The Planetary Society in Pasadena, the world’s largest and most influential public space organisation group, and he was also visiting scientist at the Mission Design Center of the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View.
In 2010 Marco built the strategy and the core of the team that led to the Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) study at the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) at Caltech in Pasadena, and in 2011‐2012 he promoted this project to aerospace leaders and governments. In 2011-2012 Marco also acted as the ESA contact point for the KISS’ ARM study, reporting to the ESA HQ in Paris. In spring 2013 the White House and the NASA HQ backed ARM (renamed Asteroid Redirect Mission) as the new strategy for America’s human space exploration, recognising Marco’s key role in it. In 2015-2018 he has been an Italian Space Agency (ASI) Associate in the Unit of the Technical Advisors to the President, appointed as the ASI technical contact point with the NASA HQ in the NASA-ASI feasibility study about the possible Italian participation in the NASA's ARM Program (Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission, ARRM, phase), and he also advised the ASI President on new initiatives with the United States of America.
In 2015 he chaired the working group (WG) for the Office of the Military Advisor to the Prime Minister of Italy (Presidency of the Council of Ministers) that had the task to define a roadmap toward the full automation of aerial, maritime and terrestrial transport. Marco is Founder of DronSystems, a British-American startup developing DroNav: a highly automated Air Traffic Management (ATM) system for small UAVs operating at low altitudes to enable safe automated commercial operations beyond the operator’s visual line of sight. DroNav architecture has been patented in Italy, Marco being the first author, and is patent pending in the EU, the U.S., Canada and Australia. In 2018, DronSystems won a tender from the European Commission and delivered the national testbed for Greece (EuroDrone project), while in 2021 it was selected by the Dubai Future Foundation and Dubai Future Accelerators.
Marco is part of the community of the Aspen Junior Fellows Alumni at Aspen Institute Italia. He won the AlumniPolimi Award 2014 for Innovation from the alumni association of Politecnico di Milano, and was featured on the May 2014 issue of Popular Science (U.S. edition).