European Space Agency to support technological development for next-generation constellation

The European Space Agency (ESA) is continuing its partnership with Eutelsat Group (recently merged with LEO operator OneWeb) through the Sunrise partnership project. The project, now entering its third phase, will provide technological advancement for products and services, enhancing European and Canadian competitiveness and increase capacity for the growing existing and future market demands.

The Sunrise project, part of the Connectivity and Secure Communications Directorate’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme, has been collaborating with OneWeb since 2018. It represents a success story of partnership between ESA and industry, working across Member States and industry partners to identify, develop and validate technologies for enterprises and businesses across the globe.

The third phase of the project was signed at ESA HQ in Paris on 15 May 2024, representing the next milestone in the project’s lifetime. It will bridge the gap between satellite generations, improving satellite batch by batch, step by step, leveraging on New Space and commercial approach and maximising benefits for Eutelsat Group’s next generation LEO satellite constellation.

These steps are enabling mass production and industrialisation of products, lowering the barrier to access to globally booming constellation markets, ensuring space and ground products continue to keep pace with existing and future market demands. By working in alignment with industry, it will enable the constellations to be sustainably managed in an increasingly congested orbit, as well as ensure that industry can meet their growing satellite needs.

Sunrise has enabled its industry partners to develop their commercial services through space integration across multiple sectors, extending their services to new markets beyond connectivity such as ancillary payloads providing remote sensing services, automatic identification systems (AIS) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) airspace surveillance systems. This is boosting the digitisation of the European economy through the accelerated deployment and demonstrations of 5G/6G solutions with other satellite systems in various orbits as well as the validation of satellite interoperability with terrestrial networks.

This project provides Europe and Canada with an industry capable of providing leading technologies and services for industrial users, able to compete on a global scale, as demonstrated with the launch of the JoeySat satellite in May 2023. The launch was a particular highlight for the competitiveness of UK industry, which was represented by multiple entities, providing key contributions to the project and enhancing Europe’s industrial capabilities and technological expertise.

The demonstration of technologies and services, enabled through its ESA partnership, will provide Eutelsat Group with the capability to provide affordable, high-bandwidth and low-latency communications services to businesses and governments across time zones. The ARTES Sunrise Partnership Project is supported by four ESA Member States: the UK, Austria, Italy and Romania.

“The vision of our cooperation and partnership with Eutelsat Group has been growing from strength to strength and represents a blueprint for a successful partnership project. ESA is proud to continue this collaboration into its third phase, alongside our Member States and industry partners to support Eutelsat Group’s next Generation system deployment,” said Laurent Jaffart, Director of ESA’s Connectivity and Secure Communications.

Craig Brown, Investment Director at the UK Space Agency said: “We’re proud to support the Sunrise partnership which has brought together a range of UK companies and European partners to develop the next generation of satellite communications technology. This new phase will continue to build on the capability, capacity and sustainability of Eutelsat Group’s OneWeb constellation and catalyse further investment into the commercial space sector.”

Commenting on this new phase, Arlen Kassighian, Chief Engineering Officer for Eutelsat Group said: "Eutelsat Group is very excited to open this new phase of the Sunrise Partnership Project with ESA that underscores our commitment to pushing the boundaries of satellite technology and driving innovation in the space industry. This is an exciting opportunity to work once again with talented potential partners on the development and derisking of cutting-edge technologies and to maintain the competitiveness of the European space industry as a whole.

We pivoted to an incremental approach for the roll out of our Next Generation system, thus we are committed to maintain consistency between our technological roadmap and the Sunrise project. In that framework, we intend to use it as a launchpad for continuous improvement to this third and possible future phases and we are delighted with the support from ESA, UK and Romanian Space Agencies, and welcome opportunities from innovative industries thanks to support from Austrian and Italian Space Agencies, to grow this continuous innovation ecosystem."

Discover more about CSC’s Partnership Project programme, and how to apply to ARTES programme which supports our partnership projects.

Published 22 May 2024
Last updated at 22 May 2024 - 16:35