Marco Tantardini is an engineer, a scientist and an entrepreneur. He likes to think that sometimes he has also been a pioneer. Since November 2020, he keeps a monthly section titled "Space Race" on Longitude, an Italian magazine in English that enjoys a privileged relationship with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Since May 2021 he is Expert for Space Policy in the Italian Government, supporting the Chair of the inter-Ministerial Committee for Space Policy, and Member of the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to the inter-Ministerial Committee for Space Policy. In 2019-2020 he has been an Expert in the Technical team for the coordination of economic policy (NTPE) in the Government of Italy, Office of the Prime Minister (Presidency of the Council of Ministers), focusing on Space Policy, 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, studying his MSc thesis in Applied Mathematics and Astrodynamics at Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. In 2018 he completed the online intensive courses on 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. Furthermore, in summer 2021 he attended and completed the course Senior Executives in National and International Security (Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education).
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 transports. 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. DronSystems in 2018 won a grant from the European Commission and delivered the national testbed for Greece called EuroDRONE.
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).