After graduating from Rome’s University La Sapienza with a master’s in astrophysics and space physics, Simonetta di Pippo began a career dedicated to space. In 1986, she joined the Italian Space Agency (ASI), where her duties included Earth observation, automation, robotics, science and human spaceflight. ASI named her Director of the agency’s Observation of the Universe in 2002. In 2008, Di Pippo joined the European Space Agency (ESA) as Director of Human Spaceflight, before leading the European Space Policy Observatory at ASI-Brussels.
Di Pippo is the co-founder and President of Women in Aerospace Europe (WIA-E) and a member of the Global Board Ready Women (GBRW). In 2013, she was appointed Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), where she chaired a study on the future of commercial human spaceflight. She is also a member of the IAA Board of Trustees. The author of several books and hundreds of articles, she is a member of a number of scientific committees and is a regular lecturer at universities around the world. In 2006, di Pippo was knighted by the President of the Italian Republic. In recognition of her years of dedication to space exploration, the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 21877 "dipippo".
Simonetta di Pippo has served as the Director of UNOOSA since 2014.