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Utilizing the potential of NANOSATellites for the implementation of European Space Policy and space innovation

Final Report Summary - NANOSAT (Utilizing the potential of NANOSATellites for the implementation of European Space Policy and space innovation)

Executive Summary:
Nanosatellites serve to be cost-effective science and technology platform to make sustainable contribution to a roadmap for space and innovation in Europe, which includes realizing a potential of new and innovative space applications and stimulating an evolvement of new business models for space missions. Still, there are significant obstacles, what are hindering nanosatellites development in Europe:
• Lack of awareness about nanosatellites capabilities
• Lack of coordination
• Incomplete understanding of potential markets
• Fragmented overview of best practices

During the course of the NANOSAT project, team of Invent Baltics, Aalborg University, NanoSpace AB, OHB Systems AG and Tartu Observatory proposed following recommendations to improve the prospects of nanosatellites of contributing to the implementation of ESP:
• To use nanosatellites for rapid and cost-effective technology demonstrators / in-space verification of technologies intended for large satellites
• •To establish European launch services for nanosatellites which in turn will increase also European non-dependence with respect to critical space technologies.
• •To support technology development in the field of formation flying, high speed (distributed) downlink which might be addressed by forthcoming H2020 calls
• •To create a European-wide system for satellite orbit tracking and collision prediction in order to create solution for handling space debris problem
• •To enable standardization of nanosatellites for easy building block approach for rapid low cost mission development

Finally, NANOSAT project aimed to draw a roadmap, which shows, how to utilize the potential of nanosatellites to the benefit of the European space community including academic, scientific and commercial stakeholders in the best possible way. This work had highlighted that nanosatellites are rapidly changing the satellite business and is now regarded an important segment by all established players. Furthermore, nanosatellites have also become an important entry point for newcomers (in a broad sense from companies, universities, agencies and countries). However, more can be done to address both technological bottlenecks such communication, propulsion, avionics, as well as programmatic issues like frequency allocations, tracking, and the space debris issue. Furthermore, the launch opportunity situation is a relevant topic and the need for regular and dedicated launch opportunities is quite clear. The importance of the educational factor remains also clear, since it translates directly into the employment factor, as young space engineers are difficult to find on the market.
Project Context and Objectives:
Nanosatellites serve to be cost-effective science and technology platform to make sustainable contribution to a roadmap for space and innovation in Europe, which includes realizing a potential of new and innovative space applications and stimulating an evolvement of new business models for space missions. Still, there are significant obstacles, what are hindering nanosatellites development in Europe:
• Lack of awareness about nanosatellites capabilities
• Lack of coordination
• Incomplete understanding of potential markets
• Fragmented overview of best practices

Considering that context in mind, the NANOSAT project brought together partners from nanosatellite development network in Europe to create the opportunities for continuous and sustainable collaboration between nanosatellite players, furthering the advancement of nanosatellite platform, development of innovative space applications and sharing the knowledge base with each other.

The general objective of the NANOSAT project was to contribute to a roadmap for space and innovation in Europe through studies and events in support of highly capable small satellites (nanosatellites) and thereby innovative space applications and new business models for space missions in Europe. In order to achieve this ambitious goal and to reach to desired impact, the NANOSAT project had defined the following specific objectives:
• Consolidate main actors in European nanosatellites landscape by creating functional network, showcasing best practices and potential markets to serve the objectives of ESP;
• Demonstrate nanosatellites potential in Europe by proposing innovative services which will complement and create synergy with GMES services by addressing information needs faster and more flexibly;
• Draw “proof of concept” missions that will realize the ability of nanosatellites to perform missions like communications and Earth observation in support of European Space Policy.

During the course of the NANOSAT project, team of Invent Baltics, Aalborg University, NanoSpace AB, OHB Systems AG and Tartu Observatory proposed following recommendations to improve the prospects of nanosatellites of contributing to the implementation of ESP:
• To use nanosatellites for rapid and cost-effective technology demonstrators / in-space verification of technologies intended for large satellites
• To establish European launch services for nanosatellites which in turn will increase also European non-dependence with respect to critical space technologies.
• To support technology development in the field of formation flying, high speed (distributed) downlink which might be addressed by forthcoming H2020 calls
• To create a European-wide system for satellite orbit tracking and collision prediction in order to create solution for handling space debris problem
• To enable standardization of nanosatellites for easy building block approach for rapid low cost mission development

Project Results:
N/A
Potential Impact:
Dissemination of project objectives and results was performed by all the partners in their own countries and at international fora. The project results were also presented in press and journals. During the project relevant brochures were produced and distributed or used at various venues.

For maximal impact of the project on the space community, a number of worldwide workshops and conferences related to the space, innovation and research activities were targeted for presentation of the NANOSAT project and its findings. The project achieved a very high level of external visibility through organisation of a number of events (WP1 – WP3 workshops and roundtables) that were complemented by smaller-scale national dissemination efforts.

The main target groups of NANOSAT were GMES user community, nanosatellite actors, other FP7 Space projects, ESA, EC, and also national stakeholders.

Socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the NANOSAT project to the mentioned target groups are outlined herebelow.

GMES user community: Potential users of satellite data are interested in solutions which may consist of several different data sources and don`t need to know by which satellite the data have been acquired. Therefore, it is important to concentrate on the applications themselves and avoiding a “technology push” approach, but to show that there are useful applications where nanosatellites can provide the satellite data input. NANOSAT project raised awareness among GMES user community by showing that nanosatellites have a lot of potential for the development of innovative services which in turn can complement and create synergy with GMES services by addressing information needs faster and more flexibly.

Nanosatellite actors: At present, there is lack of information and coordination what concerns overview of planned nanosatellite networks and ongoing developments in Europe; opportunities for the development of innovative space applications based on nanosatellites and their networks while contributing to GMES; overview of best practices in nanosatellite development, impact on education, innovation, space outreach. NANOSAT project collected this information and disseminated it among nanosatellite actors community in Europe. Based on the results of report of best practices concerning nanosatellite development and a study about barriers which hinder nanosatellites utilization, actors in nanosatellite community will have better picture about potential markets for nanosatellites. In addition they have knowledge, why would a potential user find a nanosatellite solution compelling versus larger spacecraft or terrestrial alternatives.

Other FP7 Space projects: FP7 Space 2011 Work programme supported creation of affordable launch opportunities for the Cubesats community in Europe via QB50 project (https://www.qb50.eu/project.php). Further attempts were necessary to envisage also a roadmap concerning nanosatellite missions and respective application areas e.g. contribution to GMES. Besides QB50, there was a FP7 Coordination Action Project “DORIS_Net (http://www.doris-net.eu/project_information) which was led by European regional stakeholders representing their regional authorities and aimed at making the regional link to GMES Downstream services. NANOSAT project took into account the developments what have been made in referred projects, and was synergetic also to the other activities supported by FP7 Space Work Programme. More specifically on concrete actions level, NANOSAT project invited partners and involved actors to participate in all workshops. In addition, main deliverables such as main studies and reports were also transmitted to the members of both projects.

ESA, EC, national stakeholders: As an important prerequisite for the preparation of strategy for nanosatellites development in support of GMES and a roadmap for nanosatellite missions in Europe 2015-2020, was to arrange consultations with EC, ESA and national stakeholders. For that purposed roundtables (Task 2.2 and Task 3.2. respectively) were organised within NANOSAT project in order to generate discussions, how integration of advances in miniature, micro-, and nanotechnologies enable ever more sophisticated nanosatellite applications in Europe. As a result of carrying out studies and performing a series of brainstorming roundtables and workshops with EC, ESA and innovation actors in Europe, the NANOSAT project had a strong impact across themes such as technological competitiveness, autonomous access to space, cost-effective S&T platform and added value to GMES.

The main events that helped to achieve the abovementioned results were:

1) Workshop on the best practices; Copenhagen, Denmark (7th of November 2013, 32 participants);
2) Nanosatellite´s contribution to the European Space Policy- Workshop and Policy Round table, Bremen, Germany (19th of March 2014, 43 participants);
3) Workshop “Networking of satellites: a role of nanosatellites” and Roundtable: Nanosatellite missions roadmap in support of European Space Policy, Majorca, Spain (30th of May 2014, 70 participants);
4) Tartu Conference on Space Science and Technology, Tartu, Estonia (24th of September 2014, 64 participants, 30 at the ESA workshop).

During the course of NANOSAT project, the world`s largest database of nanosatellites was produced and can be now found at www.fp7-nanosat.eu/database Currently it includes 800 nanosatellites of which approximately 360 have been launched to orbit. There are 20 columns of information for each satellite, for example name, organisation, size, orbital lifetime etc. Not all of them have been filled for each of the satellites due to the lack of public information. It is hoped that small satellite projects will start to contribute more to the online handbook to keep information about their satellites up to date.

List of Websites:
www.fp7-nanosat.eu