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.
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.