European Space Agency

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Supporting the Development of Satellite Communications and Applications

Commonly known as TIA, the Directorate of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications is the most business-oriented part of ESA. Its role is to shape and support innovation, not only in satellite communications but also in down-to-earth business applications that use other satellite systems or technologies such as satellite navigation, Earth observation or human space flight. The mechanism for doing this is ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).

By stimulating R&D and forging partnerships, TIA and the ARTES programme enable European and Canadian industry to develop innovative products, services, applications and even whole systems that give them a leading edge in a highly competitive global market.    

Entities within ESA Member States, whether large or small, new or experienced, can submit proposals via the various elements of the ARTES programme. Every element includes a funding framework with criteria that those wishing to participate must meet. The elements evolve over time, with their current grouping shown below.

Core Competitiveness is dedicated to the development, qualification and demonstration of products (handled under the sub-element of “Competitiveness and Growth”), or long-term technology development (handled under the sub-element “Advanced Technology”). Products in this context can be an equipment for the platform or payload of a satellite, a user terminal, or a full telecom system integrating a network with its space segment. Telecom applications are also covered.

ESA Partnership Projects provide the Satcom industry with an efficient framework for bringing innovative, large-scale products and systems into the marketplace through public-private partnerships. They can address space and/or ground segments. Examples with recent or imminent launches include the European Data Relay System (EDRS); the Satellite Automatic Identification System (SAT-AIS); and the Next Generation Platform (Neosat), which includes both Spacebus NEO (with TAS) and Eurostar NEO (with ADS). Other projects awaiting launch include: Eutelsat Quantum; Electra; Pacis 3 (part of ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor programme); and QKDSAT. Past projects that have already launched are the Large Programme Mission (Alphasat, with Inmarsat); and SmallGEO.

Business Applications and Space Solutions (BASS) is dedicated to the development of sustainable businesses, services and applications that make use of space assets, for implementation across all market sectors ranging from agriculture to transport and from energy to finance. It includes ESA’s networks of Business Incubation Centres (BICs), Technology Transfer Brokers and Applications Ambassadors.

Future Preparation is dedicated to strategic and market analysis, technology and system feasibility studies and the support of satellite communication standards.

Besides industry, TIA also works in conjunction with other public entities such as national space agencies and agencies of the European Union like Eurocontrol and the European Defence Agency. For example, TIA is cooperating with Eurocontrol and the European Civil Aviation Authorities to develop the satellite communications capability that will enable the future European Air Traffic Management system, as part of the Single European Skies ATM Research programme (SESAR).

Either separately or by means of the programme elements noted above, TIA also organises its work via cross-cutting Strategic Programme Lines. Currently there are three: Satellite for 5G; Optical Communications (where the lead project is ScyLight); and Space Systems for Safety and Security (“4S”). The latter includes not only Iris and EDRS but also ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor programme.