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ESA has awarded a contract to Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of global, mobile satellite communications (satcom), as the prime contractor for the new “Pacis-6” Govsatcom Precursor project under ESA’s programme of Advanced Researchin Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).
The Inmarsat-led initiative will develop and demonstrate a pooling and sharing (P&S) platform that will enable European government users and European Union(EU) agencies to access secure, affordable commercial satellite services; augmenting government-owned satcom capabilities.
The project will demonstrate to government users how to access secure capacity from Inmarsat’s unique Global Xpress (GX) constellation; the world’s only global Ka-band satellite network that is available both commercially and for governmental and military users. The Govsatcom Pacis-6 consortium, led by Inmarsat (GB), includes cyber security and digital transformation specialists CGI (GB), and government solution and application specialists AnsuR(NO) and Teamnet (RO).
The ESA-awarded contract is designed specifically to address the requirements of European governments for satellite communications that can augment and enhance their existing operational capabilities. This is of particular importance in supporting crisis response agencies, border security, diplomatic networks, disaster response, critical infrastructure, and peacekeeping missions.
Andy Start, President of Inmarsat Global Government, said: “Inmarsat is already a major satcom service provider to many European governments via our highly reliable, mobile L-band network. These satcom solutions include mission critical services such as L-band Tactical Satcom (L-TAC), and our commercial and military Ka-band network powered by Inmarsat’s Global Xpress High Throughput Satellites. Our satellite access stations in Holland, Italy and Greece support the delivery of these services to our European customers.
“We are delighted that ESA has selected Inmarsat to help shape the ESA Govsatcom Precursor programme. This ESA-Inmarsat partnership will enable a new open platform for pooling and sharing of innovative and secure satcom services for European agencies and governments.”
Carlo Elia, Head of ESA’s Telecommunications Technologies, Products and Systems Department, said: “The ESA Govsatcom Precursor Programme is developing new government satellite communications service concepts. Intelligent management of commercially provided satcom services is expected to be a key pillar for providing competitive global secure satcom services including such services in support to European institutional needs and a future Govsatcom. ESA is pleased to be working with Inmarsat on this programme.”
Satcom Pooling and Sharing Platform
As the global leader in mobile satellite services for nearly 40 years, Inmarsat and its consortium partner CGI will develop a prototype P&S platform that will intelligently pool and share capacity amongst multiple different systems, satellites and operators. Inmarsat already operates services to a wide range of government users provided through the company’s L-Band, Ka-band, Military Ka-band and the S-Band satellite frequencies. This Inmarsat Govsatcom P&S platform will support defined interfaces to enable secure integration of a wide range of different services from which government end users can select.
The Govsatcom P&S platform is intended to prepare for a ‘one-stop-shop’ for satcom procurement byEuropean government end users and users on the global market. Customers will be able to procure government specific terminals, satcom services, and applications that fit their bespoke operational requirement and budget.
Multiple end user satellite service demonstrations will be conducted during the project. These will cover a range of different civil government services, including connectivity for ‘head of state’ aircraft, the utilisation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for border security and critical infrastructure operations, and disaster response or crisis management scenarios. Throughout these demonstrations, the consortium will deploy Inmarsat’s Impact Demonstration Suite, where end users will visually immerse themselves in augmented reality to test the Inmarsat P&S platform and develop operational satcom requirements.
The ESA Govsatcom Precursor Programme
ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor projects, including Pacis-6, are the first steps to demonstrate how the European space industry can respond to a globally emerging market of secure satcom and support the future EU Govsatcom initiative; developed under the auspices of the European Commission.
ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor consists of several Pacis projects based on public–private partnerships with major European satellite operators and service providers in the 2017-20 timeframe. At present, the programme includes three projects with three further projects planned to join in 2018. The ESA programme isbeing implemented in collaboration with the European Commission and the European Defence Agency.
These projects are called Pacis after the Ara Pacis Augustae, an altar in Rome dedicated to the Roman god of peace, Pax.