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Pioneer is part of ESA’s ARTES Partner programme and has been set up to provide European industry with timely, cost-effective opportunities to demonstrate their satcom technologies and services in orbit.

Currently, companies looking to prove that their new satcoms technologies and services work in space are obliged to search for opportunities in the market. This is difficult, costly and time consuming. Matching the opportunity to launch and validate with the requirements of a mission is a further barrier.

On 30 May 2017, Open Cosmos signed up to the Pioneer partner programme to become the first Space Mission Provider (SMP).

An SMP offers public and private customers a one-stop-shop service that covers all aspects of an in-orbit demonstration campaign. Open Cosmos offers full mission simulation, spacecraft design, integration, testing, launch procurement, frequency allocation, insurance and operations.

Project Sapion will help UK-based Open Cosmos to build upon their existing technologies and develop a service that offers customers cost-effective demonstration missions for payloads of up to 20 kg.

The first Sapion customer will deliver the payload to Open Cosmos for integration, test, launch, in-orbit commission and subsequent payload and satcom service validation.

Aspiring SMPs joining ESA’s Pioneer programme will increase the availability and scope of flight opportunities and boost European industry.

Two more SMPs have signed up to the Pioneer programme. The Striving contract was signed on 9 October 2017 by consortium leader Sitael in Italy, and a month later on 9 November Airbus Defence and Space in France signed the IODA contract

Eventually, SMPs could further expand, offering an extended suite of possible services by developing enabling technologies and working together with the wider European industry, service providers and suppliers.

Last update: 18 September 2018

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