Opportunity: High thRoughput Optical Network Demonstration System (HydRON-DS)

Opportunity: High thRoughput Optical Network Demonstration System (HydRON-DS)

This Call is Open

Closing Date: 04/09/2023


HydRON (High thRoughput Optical Network) is a project implemented as part of the ARTES Strategic Programme Line “Optical and Quantum Communication – ScyLight”. 

HydRON aims to demonstrate the world’s first (all) optical multi-orbit transport network at terabit/sec capacity in space, extending terrestrial fibre-based networks seamlessly into space – in other words HydRON will demonstrate the “Fibre in the Sky” and extend the "Internet beyond Cloud(s)".

The initiative is to enable the development and validation of required technologies by European and Canadian industries. The project will support the next generation of institutional and commercial space telecom missions, requiring advanced communication capabilities which are currently unavailable.

The HydRON Mission Statement is:
“Fibre in the Sky” technology integrated in terrestrial networks at Terabit capacity demonstrated by European and Canadian Industries” 

The HydRON Project targets the implementation (meaning the development, deployment, in-orbit testing and demonstration) of the HydRON Demonstration System (HydRON-DS). The HydRON-DS (Figure 1) will be composed of the minimum number of elements (in space and on ground) necessary to demonstrate high-capacity data transport and flexible network capabilities to assets / users located both in space and on ground.

Figure 1: Demo System mission of a downscaled high throughput optical space network (i.e., HydRON-DS), demonstrating key optical / digital technologies and validating operational concepts required for the HydRON vision.
Figure 1: Demo System mission of a downscaled high throughput optical space network (i.e., HydRON-DS), demonstrating key optical / digital technologies and validating operational concepts required for the HydRON vision.

HydRON-DS ambition is to demonstrate the seamless integration of SatCom systems and the connectivity of space assets into terrestrial networks by providing low-latency and/or high-capacity data transport capabilities (and eventually services).

The targeted timeframe for the deployment of the HydRON-DS, has a launch planned for 2026, followed by the In-Orbit Demonstration phase in 2026-2028.

The HydRON-DS has two main mission objectives:

  • Mission Objective #1: technology verification in an end-to-end system demonstration
  • Mission Objective #2: validation of operational concepts in support of Service Demonstration
  • With one mission goal:
  • Mission Goal: provision of Service Demonstration in support of future Service (i.e., commercial exploitation after successful completion of the In-Orbit Demonstration)

What are we looking for?

The thematic call for HydRON-DS looks for industry-initiated ideas to reconcile the goals of ESA’s HydRON-DS Technology Demonstration mission with visionary concepts of e.g. Satellite Operators / Service providers / Primes in response to upcoming business opportunities in the satcom market. 

The present call aims at collecting Outline Proposals from Industry describing their plan to implement the next Phase B2/C/D/E of the HydRON-DS. It is planned that the Agency will only invite responders to this thematic call to submit detailed Full Proposal at a later stage.
The thematic call for HydRON-DS is open to Service Providers, Operators and Primes, complemented by relevant sub-contractors and suppliers.

The Outline Proposal shall provide technical, management, implementation / cooperation, financial and as well business case information. This constitutes the basis for exchanges with the states participating in the ScyLight programme, which funds the HydRON project. Detailed information of the potential cooperation between Industries and the Agency shall also be described in the Outline Proposal, including flight opportunities and / or utilisation plans of the HydRON-DS for commercial exploitation (or other sorts of co-investment).

Current plans

The Phase A/B1 of the HydRON-DS was initiated in 2022 and will be completed by 4th quarter 2023. Two parallel competitive contracts were awarded to industrial teams led by TAS (Italy) and ADS (Germany) respectively. Public presentations on their results can be found here (TAS and ADS)

In parallel, the Agency organised a HydRON Operators Workshop in May 2023, where several industry-initiated proposals were presented in confidence by Satellite Operators / Service Providers / Primes. Further discussions involving National Delegations took place in May / June 2023 timeframe. 

The Agency is now planning to initiate and implement the Phase B2/C/D/E of the HydRON-DS. The Phase B2/C/D/E activity is intended to be performed through close cooperation and interaction between the “to-be-selected” HydRON-DS Industrial Consortium and the Agency. 

How to apply

Submit your proposal today!

The HydRON-DS thematic call is open for industry residing within the ScyLight Participating States  to submit their proposals leading the definition, development and in-orbit demonstration of the HydRON-DS.

The thematic call is implemented by using the ARTES 4.0 Open Call for Proposals | ESA TIA for ScyLight, but with a deadline to hand in the Outline Proposals by 4 September 2023.
Detailed guidelines of the thematic call for HydRON-DS can be downloaded here.

Further technical documents are available upon request.

Submitted ideas will be assessed for:
•    compliance to the Thematic Call Guidelines for HydRON-DS
•    innovation, credibility and feasibility,
•    commercial, strategic and technological relevance,
•    performance impacts at sub-system or system level
•    direct or indirect business opportunity for the ARTES Member States’ industry

For any further questions, please contact us directly​ at scylight@esa.int, and check the announcement on ESA Star News.


HydRON presentations during the Annual Scylight Conference 

Thematic Call Documents

[1] The current list of Participating States to the ScyLight Programme is: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada and Lithuania.


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