ESA’s Pioneer-IODA Project to Develop Advanced Space Cameras

Picture of Sentinel-1 solar wing taken by on-board camera. (Credit: ESA)

Neuchâtel, Switzerland  (ESA PR) — Space cameras to monitor the deployment of satellites and check the health of spacecraft will be developed under the Pioneer-IODA project by Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

The contract falls under ESA’s Pioneer-IODA Partnership Project, which helps companies to develop new technologies and demonstrate them in space—often a pre-requisite to their market acceptance. The initiative forms part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).

Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration has 20 years’ experience of developing lightweight, low cost, low power consumption cameras, making them ideal for use on satellites.

The company will now develop an imaging platform composed of several cameras and control electronics with advanced processing capabilities that can be configured for different applications, including the mapping and characterisation of space debris.

Stephane Beauvivre, chief executive of Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration, said: “We are delighted to join the ESA ARTES Pioneer Partnership Project and to promote innovation in New Space in partnership and collaboration with Airbus as the prime of Pioneer-IODA. This opportunity allows us to demonstrate in orbit a complete payload and to characterise its behaviour in real space conditions, as well as its performance with several use cases. We are grateful to the institutional partners to support this initiative, allowing us to bring our innovations to the market.”

The Pioneer-IODA project comprises a ground segment and a space segment based on a customized OneWeb platform (also called the ArrOW platform) with multi-mission payload hosting capabilities.

Claude Lorda, Airbus space project manager, said: “Following the success of the first six OneWeb satellites, we now see a much clearer path to further develop the potential of the ArrOW platform and its capabilities for hosting and demonstrating innovative technologies in orbit.”

Khalil Kably, ESA Pioneer Programme manager said: “The Pioneer Partnership Project is all about innovation validation in orbit, in the most cost-effective environment. We are delighted to support space champion partners who take up the challenge to achieve this, such as Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration.”