The story of the first Italian communications satellite, SIRIO, started in 1968, after the failure of the European project for the vector ELDO-PAS. The story up to the launch in 1977 involved the encumbering legacy of the San Marco satellite's success in the 1960s, political uncertainty in Italy, international economic crises of the 1970s, an overtly complex management system, and an inexperienced aerospace industry. Despite these handicaps, SIRIO won the race with its nearest competitor, the European satellite OTS, which had a similar research aim in the super high frequency band. In addition to collecting a large amount of useful data, SIRIO catalyzed the process for developing an improved organizational structure for Italian space research.
↵Societàà Italiana per la Storia della Fisica e dell'Astronomia (SISFA) and Gruppo di storia della fisica at the Department of Physics, University of Rome ““La Sapienza,”” P.zza A.Moro 2, 00185, Rome, Italy; . The author provided a preliminary reconstruction of the SIRIO project in Michelangelo De Maria and Lucia Orlando, ““Le ricerche spaziali,”” in Raffaella Simili and Giovanni Paoloni, eds., Per una storia del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (2 vols., Roma-Bari, 2001), 2, 380––407. This research paper is based on documents from the CNR archives at the Archivio Centrale dello Stato in Rome (ACS) and from the Archivio Amaldi (AA), and Archivio Villi (AV) at the University of Rome ““La Sapienza.”” I thank Giovanni Battimelli, Giuseppe D'Avenio, Michelangelo De Maria, J.L. Heilbron, Francesco Marchei, Franco Marconicchio and Lorenza Sebesta for their invaluable observations and suggestions; Francesco Carassa, Aldo Paraboni, Bruno Ratti, and Antonio Teofilatto for their oral or written information; Margherita Martelli and Giovanni Paoloni, for access to the CNR archives; and Ugo Amaldi for permission to use documents from the Archivio Amaldi. Citations to documents have the form: source, box (B.), folder (f.) subfolder (s.f.).
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