Innovative ESA-Private Partnership to Produce Reconfigurable Satellite

Artistic view of Space Inspire satellite. (Copyright: Thales Alenia Space /Briot)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A fully reconfigurable, software-defined, standardised satellite for the commercial telecommunications market is under development, with contributions from a new Partnership Project between satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space and ESA.

Space Inspire is a new product line for geostationary satellites that will allow customers unprecedented flexibility for video broadcasting and broadband connectivity services by reconfiguring their missions and services instantly in-orbit.

ESA has signed the contract with Thales Alenia Space to develop and qualify European subsystems and equipment for integration into Space Inspire product line, in collaboration with the French space agency, CNES.

The Partnership Project, called “Novacom II”, was set up and negotiated under teleworking and remote meeting conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The conclusion of the negotiations demonstrates the strong commitment of all parties and the capability of ESA Partnership Projects to federate industry around large scale programmes, achieving competitive leaps forward and economic impacts.

Novacom II is part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) that was approved at the most recent ministerial council held in November 2019. Like other Partnership Projects, it is expected to generate an exceptional return on investment to European industry and ESA Member States.

Nine ESA Member States have already subscribed to the new Partnership Project and others are expected to join shortly, supporting their industries in this new venture.

“We are delighted to put on track our Space Inspire product line, thanks to the fruitful partnership and strong involvement of all the industries and agencies teams. Mixing extremely high capacity, unique agility, in-orbit reconfiguration and flexible coverage, this solution is perfectly adapted to operators’ expectations in the evolving telecommunications market,” says Marc-Henri Serre, Executive Vice-President for Telecommunications at Thales Alenia Space.

Caroline Laurent, Director of Orbital Systems at CNES, says: “Space Inspire is based on advanced technologies both for payload and for platform with an important footprint in France.”

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, says: “The next generation of satellites built as part of Space Inspire will be able to adapt almost instantly to customer demands. ESA is proud to support the European and Canadian space industries to develop innovative satellites for the competitive global telecommunications market. I congratulate all the Thales, CNES and ESA teams for their hard work and looking for the success of this project.”