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First W-band transmission from space

On 30 June 2021, the first-ever satellite with a W-band radio transmitter on board was launched. The objective of the mission, funded under the ARTES Advanced Technology programme, is to improve our understanding of the atmospheric effects in the propagation of radio signals at such a high frequency band. The mission’s success will help pave the way for future operational telecom services in W-band.

Space-based connectivity comes another step closer

A world in which people can connect to one another instantly and reliably through space-enabled laser communications has just come closer. A study has now identified how to create high-speed broadband in space.

Using lasers to communicate helps speed the flow of information to people around the world, as well as improving the privacy of messages.

Satellites for 5G to connect delivery vans seamlessly

A vehicle that remains continuously connected even when in remote areas is being road tested in Cornwall in the south west of the UK.

The test vehicle will use ubiquitous communications technology to switch seamlessly between 5G and satellite networks as required. The technology was developed by Darwin Innovation Group, in collaboration with mobile telephone operator Virgin Media O2, satellite operator Hispasat, cloud data company Amazon Web Services, the UK Space Agency and ESA.

Opportunity: Space Systems for Safety & Security (4S): Technologies, Products, Systems and End-to-end Infrastructure Developments for Secure Communications

Today, our communications rely mostly on terrestrial network solutions that tend to be more and more integrated (IP, 5G). Any failure of one element might lead to a major service disruption of the whole network and critically impact essential governmental or institutional services (at national, regional, or local levels) or operations that are deemed critical in fields as various as transport, finance, health, energy production and distribution, etc.

Opportunity: Space for Resilient Utilities

The utilities sector, including water, sewage, and energy networks amongst other, is considered a critical infrastructure, meaning that the loss, or interruption of them would result in a significant impact of the functioning of the state and/or significant economic and social impacts.

These networks, as well as their associated equipment and personnel are increasingly monitored and controlled by communication technologies. While this digitalisation is highly effective in optimising systems performance and management, it also increases the threat and vulnerability surface to deliberate and intentional (cyber) attacks and unintentional and external hazards and its dependability on the availability of terrestrial networks. 

Opportunity: Space for Aviation Safety Evolution

Digitalisation and remotisation of operations, digitalisation of communications, reduction in human operational intervention, development of remotely piloted and automated platforms (i.e. drones, UAVs, HAPS) and operations in new layers of airspace kept mostly unutilised up to now (Very Low-Level (VLL) sky (below 150 metres) and upper sky, i.e. above 20km altitude) are some of the expected major evolutions of the aviation sector. Those trends lead to the emergence of new safety and security challenges that innovative solutions will have to tackle to ensure overall aviation safety.

4th ScyLight Workshop 2021 Online Event

On the 8th and 9th June 2021, the 4th annual ScyLight workshop took place online. This year the annual event took place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the event was attended by 284 attendees, totalling 382 registrations to the event, including national delegations, industrial representatives of ESA Member States, ESA staff members and academic researchers. It once more provided the opportunity to present outcomes of ongoing activities in industry, academia and agencies as well as the right occasion to provide an overview of on-going ESA activities under the ARTES 4.0 Strategic Programme Line Optical Communication - ScyLight. 

Satellites launched to boost connectivity and create jobs

Three more nano-satellites have been launched as part of ESA’s efforts to boost the European space industry, fostering innovation and creating jobs. The satellites will be used to monitor climate change, forecast the weather, track ships at sea and aeroplanes in flight, and connect electronic devices to one another through the internet of things, enabling people to stay connected to one another everywhere and all the time.