15 July 2015: The European Space Agency (ESA) and Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement that will support the Inmarsat Communications Evolution (ICE) initiative, which aims to identify the new technologies necessary to create the next generation of space-enabled communications services.
The initial funding of €4.2 million* will support a nine-month feasibility study, for which Inmarsat is the Prime Contractor.
ICE aims to expand the capabilities of the next generation of mobile satellite services; creating an open architecture with standardised interfaces that will ensure an easy entry point for application developers, thereby stimulating the creation of new products and services.
Mr Michele Franci, Chief Technology Officer, Inmarsat; Ms. Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications and (standing) Mr Chris Castelli, Director for Programmes at the UK Space Agency.
The ICE PPP will offer industry an opportunity to propose innovative technologies and solutions that could enhance and expand the capabilities of mobile satellite communications, including associated products and services.
As Prime Contractor, Inmarsat will undertake a feasibility study focussed on identifying enabling technologies, both in space and on the ground, that could maximise the throughput and coverage of satellite communications; create lower cost, smaller terminals; develop modular components that can be easily integrated into a broad range of devices; and maximise the commercial opportunities presented through the development of connected applications – from automated transport to environmental monitoring.
Michele Franci, Chief Technology Officer at Inmarsat said: “We would like to extend our thanks to ESA, and the UK Space Agency, for their support and the vision to see how the UK and all of Europe can benefit from the expansion of the commercial space industry.
“While the initial study is a relatively small scale project, it represents an ambitious goal; to extend the benefits of satellite communications to a broader customer base and to significantly increase the range of services and applications available; from connected transport systems to the monitoring of national and international energy infrastructures, to name just a few.”
*The budget of €4.2 million, for which Inmarsat is the Prime Contractor, includes match funding by Inmarsat of €1.9m against ESA funding of €2m. The remaining budget, approximately €0.3m, is provided through match funding contributions from three sub-contractors; Space Engineering Italy, Airbus Defence & Space UK and RUAG Switzerland.
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Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat employs around 1,600 staff in more than 60 locations around the world, with a presence in the major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. Inmarsat is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:ISAT.L). The Inmarsat press release newsfeed and corporate updates are on @InmarsatGlobal.
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space. It is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, have signed Accession Agreements to the ESA Convention and will soon become new ESA Member States.
ESA has established formal cooperation with seven Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement. ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.