Skip to main content

Boosting the European Innovative Satellite Technologies with In-Orbit Demonstrations

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GOTOFLY (Boosting the European Innovative Satellite Technologies with In-Orbit Demonstrations)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-06-30

The European communication sat. industry is facing both the competition of terrestrial networks where techniques and technologies keep progressing at a sustained pace and the competition of non-European sat. & space products manufacturers around the world. New technologies are the true opportunities for the European sat. industry to improve and enhance its competitiveness and to create new applications and services for the benefits of citizens. In-Orbit Validation (IOV) & In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) are the best ways to explore, to evaluate and qualify new technologies and products. They are decisive milestones in the development of sat. technologies, products & services: they permit to assess the effectiveness of technical solutions to provide new applications and services and to promote them to final users.

As a Coordination & Support Action (CSA) within H2020 program, the GOTOFLY project has 3 objectives :
- identify a IOD/IOV portfolio of solutions & opportunities to support European space R&T&D. An IOD/IOV solutions & opportunity is the collection of a satellite communication application and service, the required new technologies and products and a IOD/IOV carrier and launch window.
- preliminary design several IOD/IOV missions suitable for the Horizon 2020 context in both technical & programmatic perspectives.
- raise awareness among the European satellite communication community of the existence of IOD/IOV solutions & opportunities.

The GOTOFLY project team includes 5 partners within 4 European countries (France, Italy, Spain & Belgium):
- The French (TASF), Italian (TASI) and Spanish (TASE) sites of Thales Alenia Space bring their expertise in different types of technologies, products & equipment. TASF is a major European satellites main contractor, owning a wide experience in both platforms & payloads for telecommunication sat.. TAS has a unique first-hand vision of the communication sat. market and of the needs of new technologies and products.
- Sea & Space Exploration (SSE) in Belgium brings its intensive knowledge of the communication sat. market and its experience in developing new services in the third world, together with its subsidiary ‘SatAdsl’.
- NovaNano in France has a top-level experience in nano-satellites, a well-fitted solution for IOV/IOD of small units.

The project is organized in 2 phases : the 1st phase is the constitution of the portfolio of solutions & opportunities, the 2nd phase is the technical & programmatic definition of 2 IOD/IOV missions. A Mid-Term Review (MTR) validates the choice of both missions. The project ran from January 8, 2015 to July 31, 2016.
A 1st activity was to analyze the market trends within each sat. telecom market segments, with the aim to identify future strategically and/or commercially promising innovative services. The market analysis was supported by both a research in market analysis reports and an interview campaign of numerous stakeholders in the business value-chain including sat. operators, service providers, space agencies, sat. manufacturers and ground equipment manufacturers. The 8 key satellite telecom market segments are :
1. Media (TV/Radio Program Delivery, Contribution)
2. Fixed Telecommunications Services (B2C – Data for Consumer)
3. Fixed Telecommunications Services (B2B – Data for Corporate-Institutional)
4. M2M Services (SCADA, IoT)
5. Nomadic and Land Mobile Services
6. Aeronautical Services
7. Maritime Services
8. Emergency, PPDR & Disaster Recovery.

The 2nd activity was to list a panorama of the new sat. technologies & products that are under development in the European space industry, space agencies and space products manufacturers. These technologies & products aim at strengthening the competitiveness of the European Space Industry and at giving it independence from non-European technologies and products. After the screening of many new and innovative solutions, a set of 17 candidate technologies & products have been selected. These selected technologies and products cover 4 domains:
- Advanced Antenna Products for mobile applications
- On-Board Processing Products for flexible telecom payloads
- Microwave Photonics Products for High Throughput Systems (HTS)
- Other Technologies & Products for a Personalised Satellite Link

The 3rd activity was to review the IOD/IOV carriers (platform and launcher) that are able to host an IOD/IOV. The review includes existing and under development platform as well as future or derived version of existing platform and it addresses 4 types of carriers:
1. Nano & micro satellites
2. Non-GEO Platforms (incl. ELiTeBUS, PROTEUS and PRIMA platforms)
3. GEO Platform (incl. the SPACEBUS B2, C4 and NEO platforms and the ALPHABUS platform)
4. Other Platforms.

The 4th activity is to establish an IOD/IOV portfolio of solutions & opportunities and to select two IOD/IOV missions for a preliminary design. The 2 selected missions are:
1- A satellite Machine-to-Machine (M2M) mission over Europe operating in the S-band. It combines the commissioning of a S-M2M service in Europe & the demonstration of key technologies.
2- A piggyback Microwave Photonics auxiliary payload to increase the flexibility & connectivity or to add thin-route capacity to a commercial Ku/Ka-band communication satellite.
A satellite M2M IOV/IOD mission
The objective of this IOD / IOV mission is twofold:
- it is to demonstrate & verify in orbit technologies & products which may be necessary for the future of the European space industry in the sat. communications domain. The need of demonstration & validation also extends to services & applications.
- secondly, it is to offer a (pre-)operational service for the European citizens, administrations & industries. The provision of a sat. M2M service (S-M2M) to the European economic actors, administrations & citizens seems a strong argument when it comes to raising funds. The S-M2M is clearly identified as a promising market. The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly evolving as an essence of smart productivity and living. Analysts speak of tens of billions of connected objects worldwide. Among them, more than 6 million of devices will be connected via satellite.
The S-M2M system architecture is composed of:
- a Space Segment of one GEO satellite hosting the GOTOFLY S-M2M payload,
- a Ground Segment of one Gateway Station which includes the hardware to interface with the sat. and with the users (other machines, customers, corporates, agencies…) through the Internet.
- a S-M2M or User Segment which is the set of fixed or mobile small terminals & connected devices that are carried by vehicles, boats, planes, trains...

A microwave photonics piggyback IOV/IOD mission
The objective of this IOD / IOV mission is to demonstrate & verify in orbit the technical, functional & economic benefits of photonics technology for processing radio signals on board communication satellites. This technology will provide a breakthrough in the design & operation of the next generations of sat. The expected benefits are the reduced cost of transmitted bit & an increased flexibility in the allocation of sat. resources to the changes in the communication capacity demand. It should provide a competitive advantage to the European satellite communication industry with respect to terrestrial networks and to non-European space industrials. The microwave photonics piggyback payload is composed of several key microwave photonics equipment.
Microwave photonics payload architecture
S-M2M system architecture