Andrey Armyagov - Fotolia

ViaSat connects satellite development programme for European Space Agency

ESA initiative aims to kick-start the development process for high-capacity satellite products, apps and services

The European Space Agency (ESA) and satellite connectivity supplier ViaSat have partnered on an initiative to accelerate Europe’s growth as a centre of innovation for high capacity satellite (HCS) products, applications and services for the space industry.

The three-year HCS Initiative will be part funded by a contribution of €30m from ESA and three of its member states, Belgium, Switzerland and the UK.

It aims to draw together industry and academia from around Europe to simplify and shorten the development process for satellite communications technology, stimulate job creation and growth and lower barriers to entry.

“This initiative will help the ESA member states and industry team up with ViaSat and quickly integrate and demonstrate their products in the HCS ecosystem of ViaSat, as well as across the wider satcom market,” said ESA telecoms and integrated applications director Magali Vaissiere.

As the official connectivity partner, ViaSat will launch and manage an online portal, the Space Hub, to provide a collaborative space for ESA members and participating bodies and businesses to pool their knowledge and experience and meet collaborators.

Projects selected under the HCS Initiative will receive up to 50% funding, with assistance from ViaSat, to include technical support on preparing their proposals and projects, programme management, bandwidth testing and hardware support, among other things.

Keven Lippert, executive vice-president of space systems and corporate development at ViaSat, said developing satellite connectivity products would bring wider benefits to society.

Read more about satellite communications

“High capacity satellites are a new breed of technology delivering ubiquitous, affordable broadband services to rival cable, fibre and terrestrial offerings. They also deliver services where terrestrial offerings simply cannot compete,” said Lippert. 

“However, to leverage the potential from HCS systems, we need constant innovation, fresh thinking and investment from across industry, academia and government.

“By partnering with ESA and others, we are making a commitment to energise development and reduce time-to-market for HCS technologies, applications and services across Europe.”

The UK Space Agency’s Catherine Mealing-Jones said satellite services are a fundamental part of the global economy, but it is important to bring a fresh approach by enabling smaller players to innovate.

“This innovative ‘match making’ will bring the kind of dynamism and creativity to the development of technology, applications and services that should be tailor-made for those with an entrepreneurial approach,” she said.

“The initiative therefore has the real potential to drive economic growth and stimulate job creation. We look forward to seeing that positive impact in the UK economy.”

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications