The European Commission has chosen two European space company consortiums to conduct preliminary research on a potential European satellite constellation. New Symphonie, a cooperation led by Euroconsult and Unseenlabs, was unveiled on December 8. A second consortium, UN: IO, was established, led by Isar Aerospace, Mynaric, and Reflex Aerospace.
Both consortiums have received $1.6 million (1.4 million euros) to present a thorough technical concept for their proposed constellation architectures. The European Commission intends the constellation to serve as the foundation for Europe’s future space-based communications infrastructure. UN: IO proposes a network of over 400 satellites, with Mynaric’s optical communications terminal connecting them all. While the group investigates technical remedies to report to the European Commission, it is simultaneously developing a demo satellite with its funds, with a launch date of 2023. Around 20 European space companies are involved, according to Isar Aerospace, Mynaric, and Reflex Aerospace.
“Equally physical bridges were in the past, satellite communication infrastructure is going to become as important for future commerce. It’s encouraging to see Europe attempting to catch up to other nations’ technological ambitions, industrial competence, and geopolitical sovereignty in creating space infrastructure,” said Bulent Altan, Chief Executive Officer of Mynaric.
The New Symphonie group contains 22 firms, notably Integrasys, KSAT, Gomspace, Anywaves, Avio, Exolaunch and Loft Orbital, in addition to Euroconsult and Unseenlabs. It was named after Symphonie, which is the very first operational communication satellite deployed by a Franco-German partnership in 1974.
“At its core, NewSpace is about taking a collaborative, dynamic strategy to provide societal advantages through space technology,” stated Pacôme Revillon, CEO of Euroconsut. “We are looking forward to cooperating on this project with the European Commission and playing our part in a more connected, autonomous, and safe European Union (EU) for all member states.” Last year, the European Commission awarded a study contract to key players in the European space sector, including Airbus, Arianespace, as well as SES, to investigate the development of a satellite-centered connectivity system for the European Union.
Earlier this year, consortium executives stated that by the close of 2021, they intended to have the required framework in order. The study will look into a potential new landmark EU program that would complement Copernicus and Galileo by providing secure communication services to the EU and its member states, as well as broadband for European citizens, businesses, and mobility sectors. It will expand on the EU’s Govsatcom program, which pools and shares satellite services, and will strengthen satellites’ involvement in the 5G ecosystem.