4S (Secure Satcom for Safety & Security)

Secure Satcom for Safety & Security (4S) represents a consolidation of and increase in ESA's efforts to support, under a new ARTES thematic framework:

- European satellite operators and manufacturing industry, to ensure that new levels of security, robustness and resilience become mandatory requirements of space-based communication solutions globally.

- European downstream industry and service providers, in delivering relevant space-based solutions and business models for innovative, economically sustainable downstream services addressing global security needs.


The Govsatcom Precursor responds to the growing need in Europe for secure communications for applications such as crisis management and maritime safety.  Access to secure satellite communications is of paramount importance to governments, as these can provide massive added value to, for example, humanitarian missions, disaster response and infrastructure monitoring. This is why ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor is dedicated to showing how the European space industry can support the EU’s Govsatcom initiative, which aims to pool and share governmental and commercial satellite services to provide secure and guaranteed access to satcom for Europe’s public sector.

4S - Govsatcom Precursor
Govsatcom Precursor for security


The Iris Programme aims to make aviation safer, greener and more efficient by developing a new satellite-based air–ground communication system for Air Traffic Management (ATM), in partnership with Inmarsat. By 2028, Iris will enable full 4D trajectory management over airspaces across the globe and the data link will be the primary means of communications between controllers and cockpit crews.




The European Commission and ESA are working on a proposed satellite quantum communication system that would have pan-European reach.

Clean Space

Through its Clean Space initiative, ESA is pioneering an eco-friendly approach to space activities. On the ground, that means adopting greener industrial materials, processes and technologies. In space, it means preserving Earth’s orbital environment as a safe zone, free of debris.

Active Debris Removal/In-Orbit Servicing: ESA will develop a new ‘Swiss Army knife’ of a mission – an ‘In Orbit Servicing Vehicle’ (IOSV) that will perform a variety of roles in orbit, vitally including the ability to safely de-orbit satellites at the end of their lives. The new vehicle will also be able to refuel satellites, manoeuvre them and ultimately demonstrate the technologies needed to extend the lifespan of missions from space.

With the In-Orbit Servicing Vehicle, ESA will spark off a valuable new business model for European industry that will go a long way toward mitigating new space debris and ensuring the long-term sustainability of spaceflight.

ESA’s CleanSat initiative is working to reduce the production of space debris – which includes reducing the amount of mass put into high density debris regions such as low-Earth orbit and geostationary orbit, developing technologies with consideration of the end of their lives in ‘design for demise’, and promoting end-of-life passivation – emptying the tanks and discharging the batteries of satellites to prevent debris producing explosions.

CleanSat: new satellite technologies for cleaner low orbits