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Satellite communication technologies


Proposals shall address one of the following sub-topics:

a) Secure and robust satellite communications, such as key generation and distribution, adapting to quantum technologies, anti-jamming technologies and products, anti-spoofing techniques, advanced coding, signal modulation and cryptography, secured uncoordinated multiple access, threats simulation, secure and robust telemetry, tracking and command (spread spectrum);

b) Bandwidth efficient transmission techniques to serve multiple users with high throughput satellites, e.g. frequency reuse techniques, multiple antenna communications, beamforming, cooperative gateway diversity, user clustering and interference mitigation;

c) High speed processing and flexible and reprogrammable telecommunication payloads, able to adapt to changing service needs such as capacity flexibility and geographic redistribution of the traffic and to satellites integration in the 5G protocol and system. Simulation and end-to-end resources management shall be addressed;

d) Optical communications, including photonics, for very high throughput systems with more than 10 Gbps (e.g. hybrid RF/optical payloads use of optical up- and down links), on-board and ground aspects focusing on feeder links, system and architecture aspects encompassing technologies such as enhanced space-to-ground/RPAS; low complexity on-board processing and limited coherent processing; orbit to ground mission data download focussing on very high throughput optical feeder links (up to 1 Tbps) and very high speed rates optical ground station for feeder links (towards 1Tbps);

e) Flexible broadband passive and active antenna techniques, such as phased array antennas for very high throughput spaceborne or airborne satellite communication applications (consisting of broadband conformal antenna arrays, broadband beamforming and broadband RF front-ends), including multi-beaming smart antennas and integration of antennas in the platform, active antenna critical technologies, lens antenna techniques, 5G dedicated active arrays;

f) Inter-satellite links, data relay solutions and on-board switching, for potential future LEO constellations (including constellations of small satellites), supporting high data rates relay (up to 40 Gbps), including terminals, in such diverse contexts as GEO/MEO to LEO, airborne (including RPAS) to GEO;

g) Advanced RF equipment in terms of higher frequency bands (e.g. Q, V/W) and re-configurability (e.g. GaN HPAs, optimised TWTA, LNAs);

h) Ground systems technologies for satellite communication services and applications: evolution of ground control stations and teleports, also enabling full interoperability with future terrestrial telecommunication networks (including 5G) and optimising performance, coverage, costs, reliability and security in the provision of differentiated services and applications to diverse user categories.

Proposals shall consider enabling technologies and solutions aiming at exploiting the potential synergies between the Satellite Communication domain and the Navigation and Earth Observation domain (such as EO/SatCom hybrid mission satellites, smart satellites, high data rate solutions, high speed links, high performance processors, antennas/reflector/structures, ground segment).

Participation of industry, in particular SMEs, is encouraged.

Activities shall be complementary and create synergy with other European activities in the same domain. Emphasis shall be given to the preparation of future and advanced satellite communications technologies up to TRL 4-5. 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;
  • 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.

The context and customer field of satellite communication services is currently undergoing changes. Broadband TV applications are decreasing in importance and the importance of internet connectivity is increasing. New EU targets have been set to achieve a connectivity of 100 Mbps for all by 2025[[Commission Communication on: Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market - Towards a European Gigabit Society - COM(2016)587 and Staff Working Document - SWD(2016)300]], for which satellite communication solutions are important, for instance in remote and offshore areas, for backhauling, or for mobile users and under emergency situations. The demand for Very High Throughput satellite communications is increasing. The 5G concept combines various access technologies, such as cellular, wireless, satellite and wireline, for delivering reliable performance for critical communications and improve area coverage[[]][[]] making interconnectivity an important challenge. New markets are emerging, such as for example the connectivity needed for Internet of Things. New mission concepts are currently being established, such as mega constellations or satellite networks based on micro-mini satellites. Finally, security aspects are becoming more and more important, in particular for governmental users of satellite communications. The challenge for the EU is to prepare the ground to maintain the technological leading edge and maintain its global competitiveness in satellite communications in those rapidly changing conditions and markets (e.g. towards and beyond the 1 Tbps high throughput satellites and/or fully flexible satellites)

  • To ensure and enhance the life-cycle cost reduction (including manufacturing and operations) and increased performance, resulting in the enhanced competitiveness of the European space manufacturing and service industry in the rapidly evolving field of satellite communication.
  • To develop European research and technology ecosystems consisting of different parties involved in satellite communications, i.e. manufacturers of user equipment, ground segment technologies, service providers and operators, validation and simulation tool developers, and end users.
  • To contribute to the integration of satellite communication into the 5G.
  • Greater industrial relevance of research actions and output as demonstrated by deeper involvement of industry, including SMEs, and stronger take-up of research results.