Pioneer is ESA Telecommunications programme to support emergence of new providers of innovative space-based services. Pioneer helps develop the infrastructure of these new companies for low cost and quick access to space. The capability to deliver space-based services is validated through at least one Pioneer flight mission. 


Pioneer objectives are to support industry competitiveness by:

i.    lowering the entry barriers faced by public and private entities wishing to demonstrate new and advanced technologies, systems, services and applications in a representative operational environment; and 

ii.    attracting entrepreneurs and service providers in the satcom market, thus furthering the adoption of new satcom solutions. 

TIA - Partnership Projects – Pioneer 4.0
TIA - Partnership Projects – Pioneer 4.0

Pioneer Private Partners

To reach the above objectives, the Agency supports the emergence of commercial entities interested in becoming one-stop-shop service providers for public and private customers. Pioneer private partners are expected to:

− act as a single interface point for their customers who want to demonstrate, validate or operate, in a representative environment, innovative solutions requiring new space segment elements 

− offer an affordable and timely access to space for testing, validating and operating innovative solutions that require new space segment elements 

− ensure that the operations and decommissioning of space infrastructure are compliant with relevant international standards and guidelines, including those related to space debris mitigation. 

The Pioneer private partners need to be equipped with: 

− capabilities and competences, including inter alia: end-to-end mission definition, design, assembly, integration and test, deployment, operation, decommissioning, frequency spectrum management, customer interface standardization and tools, etc.; 

− infrastructure building blocks, including inter alia: satellite platform and payload, communication tools and equipment for mission payload data and TT&C uplink and downlink, launch services, insurance services, ground control station for teleporting and communication infrastructure services, etc. 

Pioneer private partners are expected to maximise the re-use of existing capabilities and infrastructure building blocks. 

Validating the Service In-Orbit

As part of the Pioneer Programme, each of the Space Mission Provider is expected to build and launch one (or more) in-orbit validation Mission(s) with the purpose of demonstrating the respective service and as a showcase for future customers.

The private partner shall commit to implement and validate the infrastructure and service provision platform as well as to implement and operate the validation mission. The private partner shall furthermore provide the necessary function and performance validation data to the Agency.

Pioneer Projects :  7* Space Mission Providers * independent contracts 



Internet of Things service 3U Launched in 2021 Open Cosmos, UK
striving satellite


IOV service ~75 kg Launch planned end 2022 Sitael, Italy


Multi-mission platform adaptation     Airbus, France


Aviation, maritime and data services 3 to 6U 16 launched in 2018 to 2021 3 to be launched in 2022 Spire Global, UK
Faraday 2G

Faraday 2G

IOV service ~50 to 150 kg 6U launched in 2021 Microsats to be launched in 2023 In-Space Missions, UK


Machine to machine and Internet of Things service 12 U 2 planned in 2023 AAC Clyde Space, UK


Optical space to ground service 6U 1 planned in 2023 (** Pioneer like ARTES CC)   

Six companies are currently signed up to Pioneer as SMPs, working to develop their infrastructure for in-orbit demonstration and other services provision.

A seventh company, Space Inventor, based in Denmark, is providing a similar service – on a smaller-scale “project Edison” for now.

News and Events

Future Platform and LEO Satellite Programme Manager (TIA-PL)
Directorate of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications
+33 5 61 27 37 84
Atlas Development Manager (TIA-TP)
Directorate of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications
+44 (0) 1235 444 332