European Space Agency

End of Year Message from Magali Vaissiere

Dear ARTES community

Magali Vaissiere, Director ESA-TIA

The past year has reminded us that adaptability is an important quality when faced by unexpected and disruptive developments. Happily, the ARTES programme provides us with a very adaptable set of instruments and I am pleased to reflect on the volume, variety and quality of activities that we have been able to support over the past twelve months, with the help of our staff, our Member States and our many industrial, academic and institutional partners. 

Here are some highlights from the past year:

  • We began with the first (and very successful) flight opportunity for SmallGEO, which was launched from Korou on 27 January with HISPASAT H36W-1.
  • Early in February, ESTEC hosted the ScyLight Industry Day, where some 130 delegates from 16 Member States demonstrated the high level of interest that exists in the development of optical communications through this new ARTES programme.
  • In March, 85 SMEs came to ECSAT for an event organised by the UK space industry trade association (UKspace) and Thales Alenia Space UK, to discuss the opportunities for becoming part of the space supply chain. One of a series of such events with each of the space primes, this included key topics such as the Neosat programme.
  • In April an Irish SME, ENBIO, signed a contract with ESA to develop advanced surface coatings for Neosat, Europe’s next generation satellite platform for mid-size telecommunications missions that is being developed with ARTES support.
  • May ushered in the new Pioneer programme, with ESA signing the first contract for a Space Mission Provider (SMP), through “Project Sapion” with UK company Open Cosmos. The signing took place during the UK Space Conference in Manchester, where ESA had a major presence at an event that has grown to attract more than 1,200 delegates. Meanwhile, back in Ireland, ESA’s Core Competitiveness programme and Dublin City University were launching “Maker Space”, an initiative to support the development of innovative Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for satellite communications.
  • June saw the signing of a Joint Statement on Satellite for 5G by 16 space industry leaders during the Paris Air and Space Show, along with a high-level seminar on ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor programme. This was followed later the same month by an ESA/ESPI conference on Space and Satellite for 5G; and activities in this field have burgeoned since, with around 30 expressions of interest submitted for 5G development activities.
  • The summer saw two very different but equally significant satellite launches. In June Eutelsat 172-B became Europe’s first all-electric propulsion telecom satellite: and by October it had broken the record for the fastest electric orbit raising. ARTES C&G supported the development of several key technologies that made this possible. Then in July, Satellite-AIS payloads were launched aboard Norsat microsatellites; and since becoming operational they have produced a remarkable increase in both the number of AIS messages received and the number of ships that can be tracked.
  • Berlin in September was the setting for “Space Moves”, the 7th annual applications workshop of ESA Business Applications, held jointly with DLR. This year’s focus was on transport and mobility. The middle of the month also saw the start of operational service between EDRS and Sentinel 2B, the third of the Copernicus satellites to be linked via this near-real-time data relay service (Sentinel 1B having linked to EDRS-A in May). At the end of the month, ExCeL in London was the venue for the New Scientist Live event, where ESA again had a very prominent stand. It featured a full scale model of EDRS-C and a hugely popular address by astronaut Tim Peake. The event attracted 30,000 visitors and generated 126 news articles.
  • In October HRH the Duke of York hosted an event at St James’s Palace in London, to celebrate new investments in facilities and institutes for space, life sciences and energy at the Harwell Campus. Magali Vaissiere gave a presentation on the fast-growing space cluster, which now boasts 80 space organisations. Along with other speakers she emphasised the inter-disciplinary and cross-sector collaboration that is making Harwell such a unique location worldwide.
    • October was a busy month, with two almost simultaneous contract signatures: ViaSat Antenna Systems of Switzerland signed a contract for “Project AIDAN”, focused on ground segment developments and undertaken through the ARTES Partner programme; and SITAEL of Italy signed a contract for “Project STRIVING”, involving a consortium that will implement a second SMP through the Pioneer programme.
    • Also in October, ESTEC hosted a well-attended workshop on High Altitude Pseudo-Satellites (HAPS), with the aim of developing a joint programme involving TIA together with the Earth Observation and Navigation Directorates.
  • November brought the contract signing for Pacis-1, part of ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor programme. A consortium led by SES of Luxembourg will develop Pooling and Sharing capabilities to make secure and affordable satcoms more readily and reliably available for government users. The month also saw the signing of the third Pioneer SMP contract, “Project IODA”, with Airbus Defence and Space.
  • As November turned to December the ESA Business Applications team participated in SLUSH: one of the world’s leading events for entrepreneurship where over 2,000 startup companies gather every year in Helsinki. A new Finnish ESA BIC was just one of the announcements during a very dynamic and exciting event.
  • Looking ahead to the New Year, the value of the ESA Satcom Final Presentation Days for our various ARTES programmes has become so widely recognized that they have been combined to run for a whole week, from 29 January in ESTEC: we look forward to seeing you there.

The Christmas break will be particularly welcome, knowing as we do that 2018 will bring an ever-increasing rate of change. As always we will do our utmost to help European and Canadian space industries respond to the challenge, by using innovation to boost competitiveness. From all of us at the Telecoms and Integrated Applications Directorate, thank you for the many successes we have jointly achieved: and we wish you even greater success in 2018.

Magali Vaissiere


Telecommunications and Integrated Applications (TIA)
European Space Agency


Published 15 December 2017
Last updated at 15 December 2017 - 14:06