The Atlas extension to The ARTES Competitiveness & Growth element was initiated in 2013, to support the introduction of innovative equipment and designs into the highly competitive satcom market by supporting first flight opportunities. This helps to overcome one of the greatest hurdles to market entry: the in-orbit demonstration that proves it works in space.
Frequent launches of telecommunications satellites allow satcom services to evolve rapidly. Although operators strive to gain a commercial advantage by introducing new or upgraded equipment, they cannot take the risk that it will not work when deployed in space. First they need proof that it has already done so, typically for a period of one to three years.
With Atlas, ESA is not only supporting the introduction of innovative technologies and equipment in the space domain, it is also helping to improve the competitiveness of European Industry.
Since its inception the Atlas programme has supported a number of first flight opportunities and now the initial results are available.
When Eutelsat launched EUTELSAT 8 West B in August 2015, it carried three items that are the first products to be supported under the Atlas programme. Each of these three products will provide additional signal security and flexibility in the operation of the satellite and in the broadcast services it provides.
A new-generation flexible frequency converter provides the ability to change the frequency of the uplink signal without any change to the downlink broadcast signal that is received by home viewers. This is a major breakthrough in the prevention of broadcast signals from being jammed by rogue signal sources.
A new high-power amplification system provides flexibility in the power and frequency settings of the broadcast beam. This allows the power allocated to a channel to be set according to the current need. This in turn optimises the use of the spacecraft’s available electrical power, making it possible to increase the number of active channels at a given moment.
A new frequency-flexible command receiver provides Eutelsat with much enhanced operational flexibility, particularly with regard to repositioning the spacecraft to any other orbital slot. With this command receiver, frequency coordination with nearby satellites and jamming by rogue signal sources can be readily handled.
Performance data for all these products are currently being collected and analysed. After one full year of operation, the performance of each item will be documented and reviewed. This documentation will be available to demonstrate the performance of these units in the demanding environment of space and help to drive future sales.
In fact, as a result of gaining the opportunity to fly on EUTELSAT 8 West B, a number of these units have already been accepted to fly on other spacecraft, generating valuable commercial sales for their manufacturers.
Current Atlas Activities
Several other ARTES-supported products have been initiated in the Atlas programme and are being prepared for inclusion in upcoming missions. Additional announcements will be made as each product is launched.
The Agency welcomes proposals from Industry for support of innovative products under the Atlas programme.
The Atlas extension to ARTES Competitiveness & Growth based on an Open Call for Proposals, whereby industry initiates a request for support from the Agency; and contracts are awarded on the basis of proposals made by industry.
The Open Call for Proposals is published on ESA's Electronic Tendering System (EMITS) under AO/1-5891.
To submit an ARTES Atlas proposal, the following requirements must be met:
- The proposal must be related to the Space Segment and to flight equipment.
- ESA will only admit proposals for evaluation that come from companies or organisations – whether as Prime or Subcontractor – residing in one of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada.
- It is mandatory that companies (both Prime Contractor and Subcontractor(s)) obtain formal authorisation from their National Delegation to carry out the proposed activity (contact information can be provided by the ARTES 3-4 Programme Office on request).
ESA can fund up to 50% of the total cost of the proposed activity (up to 75% for SMEs).
If you have any questions regarding the Atlas extension to ARTES Competitiveness & Growth, please send an email to: