Airbus to build demonstrator for Europe’s GOVSATCOM programme


Airbus has secured a contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to build a demonstrator for the proposed European Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) programme.

Supported by the European Commission, European Defence Agency (EDA) and ESA, the programme is scheduled to be launched by 2020 and seeks to offer secured satellite communication services to major countries, organisations and operators.

The GOVSATCOM programme is initially expected to focus on the pooling and sharing of communication capabilities of government and operational commercial satellites.

Divided into two parts, the newly awarded contract will be valid for two years.

During the first part of the deal, Airbus will produce a system to demonstrate the dynamic sharing of satellite capabilities.

Belgium-based Newtec’s Dialog technology will be used to develop the core of the ground system, which will be installed at the Airbus site in Toulouse, France.

"The GOVSATCOM programme is initially expected to focus on the pooling and sharing of communication capabilities of government and operational commercial satellites."

The system will be operated by various European government organisations to conduct overseas operations.

In the second part of the contract, further technological development will be carried out to improve the performance of the Newtec Dialog platform.

According to Airbus, the project aims to receive all the possible benefits by pooling various capabilities for next-generation governmental satellites.

The demonstrator is expected to allow mobile users to switch transparently from one satellite beam to another without compromising the confidentiality of their operations.

Airbus secured the contract after participating in two design studies conducted between 2015 and this year on behalf of ESA and EDA respectively.

The studies aimed to define and quantify the nature of the European government users’ needs, as well as evaluate various technologies and architectures of the GOVSATCOM programme.

Advantages of the ‘pooling and sharing’ model were also examined in the studies.


Image: Airbus’ site in Toulouse, France, will house the ground segment of GOVSATCOM demonstrator. Photo: courtesy of Airbus-Satcom.