xSPANCION - Xtended Satellite Production ANd ConstellatIon OperatIoNs

  • Status
  • Status date
  1. To complete downstream vertical integration based on a single system meta-model

  2. To develop and implement key constellation enabling spacecraft technology

  3. To extend production capability in a scalable manner to deliver constellations of spacecraft

  4. To establish a scalable lean interface to control constellations of spacecraft

  5. To design a constellation mission framework including licensing filing and launch coordination

  6. To generate an interface for customers to access mission data efficiently

  7. To successfully demonstrate the innovative developments through the manufacture of 10 satellites (launch and operation of 4 of these)


xSPANCION focuses on addressing several challenges facing the market including larger volumes of data generated from more capable payloads, to be transmitted at low latency; faster time to orbit and maximum service lifetime to optimise opportunities for revenue generation; data availability, accuracy and reliability.


xSPANCION addresses the global demand for simplified access to space to stimulate industry growth by catalysing a new generation of applications previously not possible.

The demand for space data is booming across the globe and through the xSPANCION Pioneer programme we enable greater access to this data, opening the doors to industry, governments, and academia.

The need to utilise and access space infrastructure in a timely and cost-effective manner for a variety of space data users, without the need or desire to understand it, is increasing. Using a constellation of satellites, we can provide access to data through our Space Data as a Service (SDaaS) offering to users across the world, creating global or near-global coverage and connectivity. 

The innovative model-based engineering approach is integrated fully and seamlessly throughout the mission data lifecycle, which can be reused and applied to future missions.


Using Model-Based Vertical Integration we are digitalising engineering across the full value chain and eliminating documentation to enable the shift to true industrialisation of satellite delivery. The innovation occurs in the integration of models such that an update to one element propagates throughout the whole value chain of the company and all elements are updated accordingly. 

The development of ‘constellation-ready’ spacecraft that can be configured to service a variety of customer needs, with the ability to implement constellation enabling technologies effectively and efficiently, without the need to make major design changes to the spacecraft for every customer.  Focusing on high-volume production readiness we are generating an optimised and scalable production process from manufacturing, through to assembly, integration and test. This will be enabled by the application of Industry 4.0 methodologies to satellite manufacture to digitise, automate and better integrate the value chain.

Through xSPANCION we are developing a new framework for mission and constellation design to create a significantly enhanced mission operations software platform, placing the use of model-based technology at the centre of the solution. This results in a novel design, unlike any available alternatives, and integrates directly with the work throughout the rest of the programme. 

Through our Meta Model, we are developing our customer interfaces, which will provide access through secure, cloud-based data portals and offer advanced data analytics capabilities to our clients.

System Architecture

This model-based approach creates the backbone of the project, integrating all workstreams together to achieve the project goal.

System architecture



The Project is organised in three phases:

Phase 1 - Definition

Establishing requirements across the six workstreams and performing initial design of the xSPANCION project architecture for the full project lifecycle, towards the Preliminary Design Review, conducted jointly with the European Space Agency (ESA). Together with the partners, AAC Clyde Space has agreed to accelerate the project by kicking off the Spacecraft Manufacturing Preparation Phase.

Phase 2 - Implementation

The Manufacturing Preparation Phase includes detailed designs of constellation-ready spacecraft, development of digital production processes, constellation operations capability together with licensing, regulation, and more efficient launch coordination to deliver a step-change in capability to deliver constellations. 

Phase 3 - Demonstration

AAC Clyde Space continues discussions with selected customers to enter agreements for data delivery from the constellation service. This phase includes the manufacturing of 10 novel, constellation-ready spacecraft and the launch of 4 demonstration spacecraft that will validate developments across the six workstreams.

Current status

Phase 1 – Definition has been completed with the successful conclusion of the Preliminary Design Review. Phase 2 - Implementation commenced in November 2021 and is proceeding with preparation for the Critical Design review in March 2022. Phase 3 – Demonstration is expected to commence within the first six months of 2022.

Prime Contractor