Opportunity: Cybersecurity as Enabler for Secure Satellite Communications and Resilient Applications


ESA-STAR Reference: 840
Opening date: 25 September 2023
Closing date: 11 December 2023



In an increasingly digital word, security and privacy concerns are becoming a growing priority focus for institutions, consumers and businesses. Satellite communications’ dependence on digital technologies, together with the growing use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, has led to the extension of the attack surface throughout satellites’ lifecycles. In order to sustain competitive advantage over the coming decade, satellite communications need to adopt innovative security technologies and state-of-the-art, security-by-design processes.

At the same time, satellite communications offer a unique alternative to the transmission of data through the terrestrial internet, where it is increasingly vulnerable to potential malicious attacks. Used either as a primary communication means or as a back-up to terrestrial networks, satcom can therefore enhance the security of sensitive data transmission and storage or provide back-up connectivity in case of cyberattacks. This can benefit a wide range of sectors such as transportation, finance, business and government. 

This new Space Systems for Safety and Security (4S) Call for Proposals aims to foster the development of innovative satellite communications technologies, products, systems and downstream applications which address these challenges.


Cyber Secure Satellite Communications

The development of innovative security technologies, products and building blocks for future satellite communication systems, targeting topics such as:

  • New technologies for secure satellite communications and networks across all segments
  • Cryptographic processing, space security monitoring, security assessment and testing of space systems
  • Hardening of existing satcom products and systems 
  • Security of the satcom supply chain 

Satellite Communications as Enabler for a Cyber-Resilient Society

The development of technologies, products, systems and downstream applications which address key enabling roles for satellite communications, such as:

  • Secure 'secure space-based cloud' & secure routing of sensitive data via satellite networks
  • Satcom as a redundancy link in case of cyberattack on critical terrestrial infrastructure and services
  • Quantum Key Distribution​ services, systems, technologies and products
  • Exploitation of emerging paradigms and technologies in the field of artificial intelligence and deep learning, distributed ledger technology, zero-trust models and internet-of-things in support of cybersecure satcom systems.


We offer funding and technical support to companies for the development of technologies, solutions, products and downstream applications addressing the key areas outlined above.
ESA support will be based on a co-funding scheme where the funding levels will take into consideration product maturity and the risks involved.


This call is open to Industry within ESA Member States participating in the 4S Strategic Programme Line, namely: Austria (AT), Belgium (BE), Canada (CA), Czech Republic (CZ), Denmark (DK), Estonia (EE), Finland (FI), France (FR), Germany (DE), Greece (GR), Hungary (HU), Ireland (IE), Italy (IT), Luxembourg (LU), the Netherlands (NL), Norway (NO), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), Spain (ES), Switzerland (CH), and the United Kingdom (UK)


There are two steps involved in applying to this call:

  1. Outline Proposal: the first step is the submission of an Outline Proposal before the indicated deadline. Templates will be made available at the opening of the opportunity. Outline Proposals can be submitted any time during the opening period, and will be assessed promptly by ESA.
  2. Full Proposal: Following notification from ESA on the acceptance of the Outline Proposal, the Tenderer may decide to prepare a Full Proposal using the provided template.  Only Full Proposals supported with a “Letter(s) of Authorisation of Funding” (AOF) from National Delegations covering the Full Proposal will be admitted for evaluation. The Full Proposals shall be delivered via “esa-star.”

Companies interested in proposing a project are strongly advised to contact their national delegations in advance (National Delegations | ESA TIA) to start the process of obtaining an Authorisation of Funding.

In addition, interested parties are advised to start the registration of their team on esa-star as soon as possible as it may take some time. If a team is made up of more than one company or organisation, each member will need to register.

Download the Call for Proposal Document


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