Opportunity: Space Systems for Secure Communications 

ESA-STAR Reference: esa-star Publication pending 

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

Opening date: September 2022 

Closing date: 31 March 2023 

Secure satellite communications for safety and security 

Today, our communications rely mostly on terrestrial network solutions that tend to be more and more integrated. A failure of any one element has the potential to create a major service disruption to the whole network. This in turn could critically impact essential governmental or institutional services (at national, regional, or local levels) or operations that are deemed critical in fields as varied as transport, finance, health, energy production and distribution, etc. 

Adding appropriately tailored secure satellite communications components to telecommunication infrastructures may significantly help to mitigate such disruptions and provide the secure components to channel the most sensitive and critical communications services. 

This Space Systems for Safety and Security Announcement of Opportunity (AO) aims to foster the development of “secure” satellite communication products and services. This encompasses confidentiality (e.g., through encryption, anonymisation of users, etc.), availability (e.g., for high-reliability or safety of life applications) and resilience (e.g., by offering the same service transparently through independent network solutions). 

What are we looking for? 

ESA wants to support industry in developing innovative technologies, products, and services for secure satellite communications. All domains of a space systems are covered, from system studies to hardware developments for electronics in antennas, to ground segment evolutions or even the development of complete end-to-end solutions. 

The full AO document available on this page gives examples of domains that ESA and its Members States are particularly interested in funding, within the framework of the 4S programme line. 

What is in the deal? 

Companies with the support from their Member State(s) participating in the ARTES 4.0 4S programme1 will receive financial support for part of the development costs, but also critical review of their technical concept, business case and technical activities by ESA experts. 

In return the partner company will provide its share of the co-funding and develop innovative technologies / systems / products / end-to-end infrastructure. 

How to apply? 

Companies can contact the 4S team at ARTES-4S@esa.int to organise a pitch presentation or submit a pitch proposal (template embedded in the AO document). Feedback and advice will be provided within 10 days. This is an optional step. 

The industry then submits an outline proposal (template available at Documents | ESA TIA) that will also be assessed by ESA within 10 days. 

Following a first contact with the 4S team or submission of a pitch proposal, interactions with potential partners may be required and ESA may offer support in providing further clarifications, aimed at better shaping the outline proposals. 

Companies interested in proposing a project are strongly advised to contact their national delegations in advance (National Delegations | ESA TIA) to start the process of obtaining an Authorisation of Funding. 

Following the submission of the outline proposal, in case of a positive assessment from ESA, interested potential partners are invited by ESA to submit their full proposal with the Authorisation of Funding from their relevant National Delegation(s).

Useful links 

4A AO PDF 

4S Opportunities: preparing end-to-end solutions and their critical building blocks, products and technologies for Next Generation secure SATCOM communications 

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