Harwell based Celestia Technologies Group UK Ltd (CTG UK) has signed an €8m contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the development of the next generation of Gateway ground stations.
The three-year programme will create a fully electronic scanning (eScan) ground station, capable of tracking and communicating simultaneously with multi satellites. Initial development activity will be focussed on developing a product to provide Control and Gateway services for the new wave of mega satellite constellations in Ka-Band. The aim is to use eScan antennas instead of multiple mechanically steered dishes, so delivering benefits in space and maintenance costs.
Domenico Mignolo, Head of the ESA Ground Segment Technologies & Products Section says, "ESA is delighted to support the development of this challenging gateway station under the ARTES CC programme."
José Alonso, Chairman of the Celestia Technologies Group says, "This major project is a component of our wider UK investment and growth plans designed to address the technical challenges of providing extremely capable ground-based architecture to maximise the space-based investment.
"With the backing of our successful and innovative European Group companies, and the supportive UK space environment, we see eScan as an exciting catalyst that will establish deep roots in the UK," he says.
With the trend for earth observation operators to fly increasing numbers of smaller satellites in their fleets, and connectivity focused satellite operators launching satellite constellations in their hundreds, the control (TTC) and the gateway functionality of the ground-based stations has become increasingly critical.
The commercial opportunities created by this development activity are wide-ranging. The eScan gateway concept is applicable to any frequency band and is capable of efficiently and cost effectively providing Gateway and satellite TTC services.
The contract has been part funded by the UK Space Agency.
Dr. Craig Brown, Innovation Lead for Space at Innovate UK and the UK’s Delegate to the ESA ARTES programme says, "CTG UK, with their eScan project, represents an excellent contribution to the UK’s strategy of supporting innovative and disruptive satellite ground segment technologies, improving access to space for new markets and applications. I’m very pleased to support the growth of this exciting company in the UK via the ESA ARTES programme.’
Mike Rudd, Head of Telecommunications Strategy at the UK Space Agency, adds, “This project underlines the UK’s support to innovation in the revolution of space services and capabilities. The UK Space Agency is committed to helping make space more affordable and will continue the drive to make space a key component of the UK’s future communications infrastructure. Through the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, we are encouraging high-tech British businesses to pursue commercial opportunities to ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age.”
The eScan development is set to create an initial 20 new jobs. The €8m ESA contract is part of a total €19m project.