Mega-Constellations as Enablers for New Services and Applications Opportunities


“Mega-constellations” is a generic term which describes large satellite constellations in low earth orbit, with low latency, global coverage and mass-produced satellites at a reduced cost. Several constellations aimed at serving the broadband market are currently either in operation or being developed. OneWeb mega-constellation system has been chosen as the constellation partner for this study.


The study objectives are to identify and analyse services and applications for which a disruptive change could emerge from the deployment of mega-constellations. The study focuses on the downstream space applications segment and characterises concrete service opportunities and related stakeholders.


Following a preliminary research carried out to answer ESA’s call for tender, six potential areas of interest have been identified:

  • Weather monitoring and forecasting
  • Disaster risk alert systems
  • Government and administration outreach
  • Train and tram
  • Containers tracking
  • Arctic sea transport


  • Some synergies amongst Weather Monitoring, Disaster Alert System and Arctic Transport emerged, highlighting the need of following them together.
  • A sufficiently representative sample of users for each topic was in some cases challenging to obtain. Some users contacted at first turned out to be no longer available during Task 1.
  • The activity relies only on OneWeb’s openly available commercial and technical data, and  when needed , benchmarking with other services on the market


The study will deliver a road map on the development of innovative solutions for services and applications in weather monitoring and forecasting, disaster alert system, government and administration, trains and trams, and arctic transport, enabled by the mega-constellations. These applications will bring socio-economic benefits for the end users, as well as provide opportunities for businesses, and will enhance public services.



System Architecture

In this activity, OneWeb’s mega-constellation is taken as a reference. OneWeb’s satellites, located at 1,200km of altitude, serve user terminals through user links in Ku band. Gateway stations provide the service links and connection to the Internet network and operate in Ka band.

The identified applications or services will be either in the form of software or/and hardware. Where relevant, the study will envisage a form of integration between the user terminal and the downstream services.


The activity is divided in four tasks.


  • Task 1 is dedicated to review  the technical and business  assumption, as well as collecting users’ needs and expectations from the different user communities, using  a standard stakeholders’ map model.
  • Task 2 is devoted to business case analysis;
  • Task 3 is focused on gap analysis;
  • Task 4 concerns a strategic planning approach as a roadmap for future developments.

Current status

Task 1 of the Project is completed. For this task, contacts were made in the list of users who agreed to cooperate for the activity. In addition, an effort was made to expand the users’ base to a larger group, through the team experts’ own networks and industry events relevant to the applications and services. For instance, flyers were developed for the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS)’s Forum, organised mid-June by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and for the Arctic Economic Council’s Second Forum on Broadband, which also took place mid-June. Online questionnaires seemed well suited for the e-Government application as targeted users are based in Africa, and their base is wide. An online questionnaire was therefore developed in both English and French. In addition, interviews have been organised with informed stakeholders for each of the applications and services to provide a qualitative evaluation of the answers to the questions. Besides, interviews allowed to expand discussions in subjects which may have not been envisaged while drafting the questionnaire.

A standard stakeholders’ map model was used, alongside a “Data Collector” model specifically designed for our project. The latter has been used at this stage to identify who is a data collector, a data processor or a data user amongst stakeholders

The experts are now getting ready to start Task 2 of the project, which is the definition of the business plans for the applications and services.


ESA Contacts

Status date

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 08:08