Deep Blue collaborates with ESA to train the next generation of astronauts

The Italian SME has been chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver the “Human Behaviour & Performance” course, which will teach new astronauts the importance of teamwork for the success of future explorative space missions.


Deep Blue, the first Italian SME to win and carry out EU-funded research and innovation projects under the Horizon programs (source: European Commission), has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to train the new astronaut candidates Sophie Adenot, Pablo Álvarez Fernández, Rosemary Coogan, Raphaël Liégeois and Marco Sieber. These candidates were chosen from over 22,500 applicants from ESA member states in November 2022. They will be joined by Katherine Bennell-Pegg, Director of Space Technology at the Australian Space Agency, who will undertake basic astronaut training alongside the ESA candidates. 

Deep Blue trainers will be Simone Pozzi, CEO of the company and an expert in human-centred innovation in high-tech sectors, and Angela Donati, a Senior Training Consultant. Both have previously conducted the “Human Behaviour & Performance” course for Ground Control at ESA, the operators who work on the ground to control space missions. Now, they have been tasked with delivering the same course to Carrier Astronauts candidates who will participate in future space missions. The 40-hour course will take place from May 4 to May 12 at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

In this day and age, with the vast technological capabilities and knowledge at our disposal, future space flight missions are no longer just a technical challenge. In fact, expert astronauts such as Luca Parmitano or Samantha Cristoforetti have repeatedly explained that a crucial factor for the success of space missions is the ability to work as a team, get along with colleagues in stressful and demanding situations, and enhance self-awareness regarding the fact that the actions of each individual have an impact on the entire crew. In this context, working on human performance and behaviour means helping astronauts to make the most out of every situation, both in teamwork and in the uncertain scenarios they will face.

“The next frontier of space exploration lies in human performance, which is crucial for addressing unexpected and hostile scenarios, and for optimising the results of astronaut teams. Astronauts are currently engaged in missions lasting a few months, however, the upcoming explorations are set to be much more ambitious and will last for several years. These include prolonged stays on the Moon and voyages to Mars, which are already in the planning stages” says Simone Pozzi, CEO of Deep Blue and an ESA trainer.

The “Human Behaviour & Performance” course for ESA astronaut candidates, delivered by Deep Blue, will cover the following topics and objectives:

  • Communication: to train clear communication both on board and with Ground Control operators, adapting language to different interlocutors.
  • Teamwork: to learn how to rapidly build a working group, a fundamental element in space missions that impacts their performance and survival.
  • Leadership in extreme environments: with the goal of being able to exchange roles in the team, both leaders and followers, as leadership during missions could change continuously depending on the specific objective.
  • Conflict Management: to learn multiple approaches to conflict resolution, depending on the situation.
  • Self-Care: to enhance self-awareness, identify signs of stress and know how to manage them.
  • Human Error: to comprehend the concept of error including its various types and how it is intrinsically associated with human behaviour.
  • Multicultural factors: to achieve new skills for effective communication and interaction with astronauts, with diverse cultures and different training backgrounds (e.g., military and scientists).

Within future space missions, it will be increasingly crucial for crew members to excel in behavioural skills in order to achieve objectives and complete missions successfully, and most importantly, because they can save lives” highlights Angela Donati, Senior Training Consultant at Deep Blue and trainer for the ESA course.




The company: Deep Blue srl

Deep Blue is an Italian SME based in Rome that addresses the most significant social and technological challenges through advanced research activities and consulting. Since 2001, the company has been contributing to the development of research in Europe, achieving EU funding for over 85 projects, including 14 as coordinator. It is the first Italian SME and the third in all of Europe for research and innovation projects won and implemented under the Horizon framework program (source: European Commission). Deep Blue has over 20 years of experience in the aviation sector and is a privileged partner for the training of Eurocontrol, ESA, IATA, ENAV and the Italian Fire Brigade.

The Deep Blue trainers

Simone Pozzi is an expert in human-centred innovation in high-tech sectors and serves as the CEO at Deep Blue. With a wealth of experience training managerial professionals, he has been serving as a lecturer on Human Factors since 2006 for EUROCONTROL, since 2013 for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and since 2018 for the European Space Agency (ESA). His focus is on topics such as Teamwork, Leadership, Decision Making and Error Management. In 2023, he will train new ESA astronauts on decision-making and leadership in high-stress conditions. Currently, he teaches two university courses at the University of San Marino and the Higher Institute for Artistic Industries in Pescara.

Angela Donati is an expert in experiential training, facilitation, and coaching and serves as a Senior Training Consultant at Deep Blue. She has extensive experience training managerial professionals and has been collaborating with EUROCONTROL since 2017, the European Space Agency (ESA) since 2018 and the Italian Fire Brigade since 2021. In 2023, she will train new ESA astronauts on decision-making and leadership in high-stress conditions.

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