The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed the appointment of QinetiQ to deliver and operate an important new satellite that will support technological innovation, de-risking and concept testing for public agencies and commercial enterprises in Europe, with this new contract an outcome of the Horizon 2020 In-Orbit Demonstration and Verification (IOD/IOV) initiative funded by the European Union.
Image courtesy QinetiQ
The EU Horizon 2020 IOD/IOV initiative will provide organisations with new opportunities to capitalise on affordable access to space demonstration and validation. Such services are essential for driving advances in new space technologies and capabilities, and the European Commission is committed to maximise European competitiveness, independence and service sustainability in space technology and innovation.
The new satellite will feature the latest generation of QinetiQ’s highly successful PROBA platform. The P200 platform has been developed to provide inherent flexibility - demonstrated by previous PROBA missions carrying up to 28 payloads. It is not only compatible with a wide range of launch rockets but also has simple electrical interfaces, standard protocols and optional specifications for a diverse array of payloads. Up to 13 different IOD/IOV experiments will be on-board of this new satellite.
The P200 platform features improved operational performance from new avionics and propulsion systems, and on-board autonomy greatly reduces operational costs. PROBA-1, for example, was launched on a one-year technology demonstration mission in 2001 but, on completion of its original assignment, was converted for operational observation and is still in orbit and providing invaluable data.
Development and systems integration for this new satellite will capitalise on QinetiQ’s dedicated new cleanroom facilities at Kruibeke in Belgium. A ground control system will also be installed in the premises and will provide continuous management and monitoring.
“We’re delighted to be working on such an important mission for so many organisations at the cutting edge of space technology,” says Jim Graham, Managing Director of QinetiQ’s space business. “The new satellite funded by the European Union will play a catalytic role in helping to bring exciting and significant new innovations to market and maximising European progress and competitiveness in the burgeoning space sector. It is particularly pleasing to be working on a programme that will open yet another chapter in the long and impressive in-orbit testing heritage of our PROBA satellite platforms and will also capitalise fully on our recent investment in new production facilities.”
The European Space Agency is pleased to implement the IOD/IOV initiative, which is another important constituent of the European Union framework Programme for Research and Innovation. It is a further important contribution for ensuring EU non-dependence and competitiveness in technologies through a regular, sustainable, cost-effective and responsive IOD/IOV service in the European Union.