With new satellites in orbit, payload launches, system upgrades, and more opportunities for EO and GNSS users, “EUSPA can proudly look back at key achievements in 2022 in all its domains of activities: satellite-based service provision, security, and uptake of space data and services” declared EUSPA Executive Director, Rodrigo da Costa.
Join us as we countdown to 2023 by highlighting some of this year’s milestones in EU Space.
2022 was marked by the excellent provision of Galileo and EGNOS services, with state-of-the-art precision and availability of the signals from space, enabling billion of users in Europe and around the world to fully reap the benefits of space data and services.
The EU Space Programme’s various satellite constellations were upgraded at several occasions, kicking off with new Galileo satellites! Following extended in-orbit testing and rigorous validation, two new satellites joined the Galileo family in 2022. ‘Nikolina’ (GSAT0223) entered into service in May, followed by ‘Shriya’ (GSAT0224) in August. Together, these satellites offer greater precision, faster positioning, better accuracy and enhanced capabilities to several billion people using Galileo worldwide.
The Galileo Open Service is set to become faster and more robust after an upgrade that added new features to the I/NAV message. EGNOS also received an upgrade, with the launch of the GEO4 payload that will increase the robustness and availability of the EGNOS services.
While the satellites in space tend to get all the attention, both Galileo and EGNOS also depend on a robust – and secure – infrastructure here on Earth. For Galileo, part of that infrastructure is Medium Earth Orbit Local User Terminals (MEOLUTs). A component of the Galileo Search and Rescue (SAR) service, these dedicated ground stations play the critical role of generating an independent location of the distress beacon transmissions and relaying this information to first responders. To continue to save lives and better support the Cospas-Sarsat system used by international SAR efforts, this year, EUSPA announced that a fourth MEOLUT has been deployed on the Indian Ocean Island of Réunion.
In its role as the security gatekeeper of the EU Space Programme, EUSPA continues to take steps to ensure the security of Europe’s GNSS signals and the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the data these programmes provide. Central to this role is the Security Accreditation Board (SAB), the security accreditation authority for all of the EU Space Programme’s components, where Member States take decisions in a strictly independent manner from the Programme and that this year elected Philippe Bertrand as its new Chair.
While the SAB is in charge of security accreditation, security monitoring is done by the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC). In September, EUSPA inaugurated a new GSMC facility in Saint Martin de la Vega, Spain, which serves as a backup to the site in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France – where we also started moving to a new building.
EUSPA also celebrated its first anniversary this year - and the Agency’s 10th anniversary in Prague - along with its expanded mandate that includes not only overseeing the security, services and market uptake of Galileo and EGNOS, but also Copernicus and GOVSATCOM.
On the GOVSATCOM side, EUSPA is entrusted with the procurement of the secure operational ground segment, its operations and the coordination of the programme’s user-related aspects. As to Copernicus, EUSPA continues to work with European companies, helping them fully embrace the power of Earth Observation through funding opportunities and market intelligence.
Did someone say market intelligence? As the go-to source for all things EGNSS and Earth Observation, EUSPA is well-positioned as the single point of information, expertise and support that companies from across Europe depend on when integrating European space technology into their business solutions. This year, our staff of market uptake and innovation professionals published the first-ever EUSPA EO and GNSS Market Report, downloaded over 100,000 times since then!
Part of our mission is to support the development of innovative European products and applications and a competitive space industry based on Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus services. To do this, we offer numerous funding opportunities, including the flagship Horizon Europe and Fundamental Elements mechanisms. We also host a wide range of competitions and awards, such as the #myEUspace competition, and this year we launched our new Space Academy. These interactions led to the creation of a large network of start-ups, innovators and SMEs.
It was another active year for EUSPA. In 2022, our staff spoke and presented in more than 100 events, webinars, congresses, competitions and tradeshows across Europe – and beyond. We also hosted several in-house events, including Entrepreneurship Day and Open Days. Together with the European Commission and the Czech Presidency of the Council, we also organised the EU Space Week, the latter of which welcomed over 3,000 participants.
To maximise the uptake and benefits of EU Space, EUSPA continues its drive to partner and collaborate with various organisations. Together with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), we’re working to foster a space economy that best supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Thanks to a partnership with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), Galileo and Copernicus are now being used to further the goals of the Common Fisheries Policy.
With space being a key enabler of such EU policy initiatives as the European Green Deal, this year EUSPA put a particular focus on how EU Space is being used to fight the effects of climate change. On World Water Day, we put the spotlight on how Earth Observation and GNSS are monitoring the health of our oceans and rivers. We even launched a dedicated CASSINI Prize to facilitate the creation of innovative commercial solutions that leverage the EU Space Programme to detect, monitor and remove plastics, microplastics and other litter from our oceans and waterways.
We also highlighted how the EU Space Programme helps address such environmental challenges as a changing Arctic, climate-related natural disasters, extreme heatwaves and the loss of biodiversity along our coastal regions.
Happy New Year!
2023 is shaping up to be another busy and productive year. Once again, EUSPA will see its role expand as we take on responsibility for the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme’s Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) Front Desk operations. Furthermore, we will become fully responsible for the EGNOS Data Access Service (EDAS) and will play a role in the newly announced IRIS2 satellite constellation.
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