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In-Orbit demonstration/Validation (IOD/IOV)


Specific challenge: In-Orbit demonstration/Validation (IOD/IOV) is a unique tool to boost industry’s competitiveness by eliminating the famous “valley of death” and accelerating the deployment of innovative technology.

The challenge in H2020 is to make access to space possible for new technologies and innovations by means of in-orbit demonstrations (IOD) and/or validations (IOV). This maturity level is crucial to enable the competitiveness, non-dependence and innovation of the European space sector. Apart from assessing launching opportunities, platforms and possible upper stages may need to be adapted or developed (complementary to those already existing in Europe) to affordably harness existing European launching capabilities for placing new space products in orbit.

At this initial stage of Horizon 2020 studies are needed to help define the envelope and the requirements for the implementation of affordable missions of IOD/IOV (in combination with the launching system to be selected) within the Horizon 2020 timing and development contexts. This, together with the analysis, design and implementation of the technological elements (platforms, launchers, interfaces, etc.) represents the needed bricks for making this tool available. The IOD/IOV themselves will be addressed in future calls. This call covers only the studies assessing these activities.

Scope: Many of the technologies developed for space will need to be demonstrated in orbit in order to be accepted as new space products. In many cases, in order to be considered for future missions, flight heritage is a requirement, in particular when a high risk is associated with the use of totally new technologies and innovations. It is the intention of the Commission to ensure that at least two opportunities for  IOD/IOV are co-funded during H2020 as a final step in the process of supporting space RTD.

IOD refers to the spaceflight of a scaled version of a particular technology or critical technology subsystem, which would still need further steps to be ready for mission adoption. IOV would already serve as a qualification flight for future missions implementation. Such a successful validation flight of a particular technology would not require any additional space testing before it can be adopted for a specific mission.

The studies should define possible scenarios for one or several future flight opportunities for IOD/IOV of European technology developments (components, payloads, spacecraft subsystems, re-entry vehicles, etc.) and/or innovative system architectures. European technologies are those originated from EU R&D programmes as well as projects financed by ESA, National Space Programmes or European private initiatives (e.g. satellite communications).

The studies will cover proposals for the IOD/IOV platforms in connection with affordable launch systems, with special focus on European launch solutions. A description of the missions to be accomplished, with the resources available to host a/some technological package/s for demonstration are also required together with the first design and implementation of all the elements needed for the mission. The studies will consider different approaches for the platform for the IOD/IOV activities, or adaptation of existing ones such as: dedicated spacecraft, autonomous multiple payload dispenser systems, platforms of standardised parts, segments/rings, upper stages of launchers and re-entry vehicles among others. Proposed solutions should be suitable to recurrently place new space products into orbit to perform relevant missions, and to demonstrate their viability by proving maturity of technology payloads.

The studies will analyse, from a programmatic point of view, the recommended TRL level that the envisaged technologies must have to be demonstrated/validated[1]. An appropriate phasing between the flight opportunities and the technologies to be demonstrated/validated in orbit shall be presented in the studies. The industrial applicability of the technologies in the short/medium term is an important requirement. Other prioritisation criteria will be based on the balance of packages to ensure the maintenance of a relevant number and variety of technologies in order to optimize the IOD/IOV.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 300.000 and 500.000 would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

           Identification of a portfolio of solutions and opportunities to implement IOD/IOV missions for enabling the flight and operation of innovative space technologies developed in Europe. These solutions will be fully parametrised (technical aspects, implementation of the technologies and the mission, cost, commercial viability).

           Down-selection, within such a portfolio, of those solutions which are suitable for a Horizon 2020 context and are RTD based and innovative.

Type of action: Coordination and support actions

[1] Technology Readiness Levels are defined in part G of the General Annexes. In the specific area of space, further details can be found in the European Space Agency website ""Strategic Readiness Level - The ESA Science Technology Development Route"". European Space Agency, Advanced Studies and Technology Preparation Division,