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Generic space technologies


Activities shall advance, or spin-in from other fields, space technologies in the domain of power management, thermal control, materials, structures and processes. Incremental or potentially disruptive advancements can be both targeted.

Proposals based on low TRL technologies are solicited. The target is to demonstrate these up to medium TRL (4-6).

Each proposal shall address only one of the following sub-topics:

a) Innovative solutions for very high power systems, including solutions for power generation, storage, control and distribution able to support highly dissipative missions requirements. Innovation is sought in the areas of the high power electrical propulsion (> 20 kW) consistent with activities under the ""In-space electrical propulsion and station keeping"" SRC, very high throughput satellites, high power active antennas in high frequency bands, high capacity battery cells, low-cost ultra-capacitors, technologies for flexible/foldable arrays (aiming at >25 kW, addressing mechanical architecture and flexible solutions), regenerative fuels cells, low cost direct drive units, solar cells;

b) Innovative thermal control solutions for high temperature missions: high power communications, high voltage and high power systems, pose growing challenges to the thermal budget of the spacecraft or re-entry vehicle. Innovation is sought in the area of materials and thermal control solutions (e.g. heat pumps, advanced loop heat pipes, mechanical pumped loops, flexible self-regulated heaters), addressing thermal protection, thermal regulation, thermal stability, materials with variable emissivity/absorptivity; innovative thermal control surfaces, conductive/dissipative carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) panel;

c) Spacecraft bus stability and line-of-sight technologies: critical sensors and actuator solutions for high stability and line-of-sight control at spacecraft platform level, including sensors and actuators, focusing on competitiveness through efficiency and miniaturisation (and hybridisation);

d) Advanced materials, structures and production techniques (e.g. additive manufacturing): activities shall address technologies applied to space flight elements manufacturing with a focus on low-cost on-ground manufacturing processes in support to mega-constellations or on on-orbit manufacturing processes in support to space exploration;

e) Ground systems with massive processing: data processing capabilities of missions for different applications, including ground control stations for remote sensing operations; processing power and speed, post-processing, data fusion, data networks, configuration life-cycle management and operations (particularly for constellations, including mega-constellations), integration of new technologies in ground systems and data processing (big data archiving and retrieval, smart data optimisation, automated data processing, distributed data platforms, artificial intelligence, full automation), distributed data exploitation platform.

Low cost solutions based on components off the shelf (COTS) are encouraged.

Participation of industry, in particular SMEs, is encouraged too.

Activities shall be complementary and create synergy with other European activities in the same domain either in the space or non-space fields. Technological spin in and/or bilateral collaborations should be enhanced between European non-space and space industries.

To this end, proposals shall include the following tasks:

  • Analysis of relevant available roadmaps, including roadmaps developed in the context of actions for the development of Key Enabling Technologies supported by the Union;
  • Analysis of how their selected space technologies can contribute to different space applications or, where applicable, to non-space sectors (such as through technology transfer or spin off);
  • Commercial assessment of the supply chain technology in the space or non-space domains and, if applicable, a business plan for commercialisation with a full range (preload) of recurring products.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In the mid- and long-term the competitiveness of the space sector and its ability to serve the Union's internal and external policies, including the Space Strategy for Europe and the Common Security and Defence Policy, depends on the continuous incorporation of advanced basic technologies of common interest to all applications, including cross-cutting technologies such as power management, thermal control, materials and structures.

Advancements in these technology domains are necessary to enable new spacecraft or mission concepts with higher performances, higher power demand, lower mass and cost, such as higher data throughput systems and mega-constellations. As well, they can contribute to mitigate the risks related to the European dependence in space technologies. Moreover, a number of related challenges have parallels to terrestrial challenges, for example in the fields of aeronautics, energy, environment, advanced materials and production methods. Complementarity and synergy with on-going or planned European developments both in the space and non-space sectors is a challenge to address.

  • Development or spinning-in of new enabling technologies to space systems;
  • Lead to radical improvements in performance, enabling emerging missions, as for instance high data throughput satellites or constellations.
  • Lead to drastic improvements in efficiency, versatility, functionality and autonomy.