Chiara Manfletti was not always sure she would choose a career in engineering. "I could imagine many different paths," she says: "marine biology, journalism, veterinary medicine or law. In the end, it was the prospect of solving problems hands-on that attracted her to engineering, but the direction was still open. "One day, I was watching ESA's Cassini-Huygens mission on TV with my parents and was fascinated by the probe's landing on Titan. After that, I was sure that aerospace was what I wanted to do.“
Today, few people represent the spirit of European space more than Chiara Manfletti: she studied aeronautical engineering in London - her Master's degree from Imperial College was followed by one from the International Space University in Strasbourg and a PhD from RWTH Aachen University. She then worked as a research engineer in rocket propulsion at DLR before moving to ESA, where she headed the policy and programmes coordination department. During her time at ESA, she was also involved in the creation of the Portuguese National Space Agency and became its first president.
In 2022, she was appointed to TUM. "Universities - also in Europe - are increasingly becoming incubators for new ideas and start-ups," she says. "I believe that TUM offers an optimal environment for both dimensions: for interdisciplinary research to achieve real scientific breakthroughs, and an ecosystem for swift technology transfer."