portrait Casalino

Silvia Casalino

Fellow 08-09 (Term II/III)

Space Engineerin / Cultural Studies / Film


Silvia Casalino received the Space Engineering Master degree at Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and École Nationale Supérieure de L’Aéronautique et de L’Espace (Toulouse) with a dissertation on Service Time for a Low Earth Orbit Satellite Constellation Messaging System.

From 2001 she has been working at CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) in Paris. For the first five years she has been in charge of on Zero gravity Launcher attitude control studies on Ariane 5 project. At the moment, she is working as project Manager of CNES activity on Vega small launcher development.

Apart from those technical topics, from 1994 Silvia Casalino has also been engaged as DJ and music producer, journalist, and cultural worker on different projects: music editorial line for Radio Onda d’Urto Milano (Italy); Journalist for Towanda!, Vacarme and GLU magazine; Curator of the exhibition Dykestrippers au CDM (Colletivo Donne Milanesi) Milano (Italy); Collaboration with the label Kill the DJ as music producer and concert organizer; Co-curator of Cortocircuito cycle of exhibitions at Politburo (Paris); Feminist film maker Carole Roussopulos interview for Radio Campus Paris

ICI Project (2009)

Mercury 13 - Woman in space program

During the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States, NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) informally began running a series of tests on women designed to evaluate their physical potential as astronauts. In 1960, with this objective a group of 13 women civilian pilots reach the Albuquerque Clinic in New Mexico (the clinic where male astronauts undertook their fitness exams).

The thirteen women trained successfully and in many regards had much better results than their male colleagues. But, after a whole year of training, the candidates received a short telegram announcing that the project was being abruptly cancelled. One of those women, Geraldyn Cobb did not give up and requested a hearing in front of the US Congress on grounds of discrimination. Although she received support from a wide audience, she lost the case. Only few years later in 1964, the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, ..

In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova from the USSR became the first woman in space. Americans would wait twenty more years until 1983, when Sally Ride flew on the Challenger space shuttle (Mission STS-7). But where are we today? There are no women in the European Astronaut Corps and there is only one Russian woman astronaut who has been waiting for her first flight for the past ten years. Women make up twenty percent of the US Astronaut Corps, but they account for only one percent of shuttle pilots.

Even though science’s claim of universalism and despite the supposed neutrality of space research, this kind of workplace is strongly gendered. It is ninety percent male. Women are paid less, they are not promoted to the highest positions and are more frequently dismissed than men.

This project will draw on material from three different perspectives: the official archives (TV images and film, scientific publications, etc.), stories told by the protagonists (the unofficial versions), and my own personal experience. I would like to develop a form that will show different layers of knowledge and storytelling in confrontation with my own perspective, informed by my scientific work.

I will use Donna Haraway methods to conceptualize the different layers of tension in my project (Tension and International Politics, Gender tensions, Physical Tension) and I will try to go beyond dichotomies like nature/culture and femininity/masculinity, without rejecting technology all together.

Continuation of the Project "Embodied Creatures"

In April 2009, with a small budget provided by the French Space Agency CNES, we were able to shoot two interviews: Claudie Haigneré and Francoise Bories.

In August 2009 the project "Embodied Creatures" was pitched to "Bodybits – Analogue Bodies in Digital Times", a competition call from the German TV station, "ZDF Kleines Fernsehspiel" in cooperation with "Haus der Kulturen der Welt" (Berlin). In December 2009 the project was selected among the five best ideas and received a production fund from ZDF Kleines Fernsehspiel.

In January 2010 the pre-production phase began, a production team was selected, the script was finalized and a working schedule was put together, which will allow us to finish a 53-minute version for German TV in December 2010 and the 60-minute international TV version in Feburary 2011. Our plan is to start shooting the first part in spring 2010 in Russia, France and Germany and the second part in June 2010 in French Guyana and the U.S.

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