Horizon Europe: Call for IOD/IOV Experiments

 Horizon Europe: Call for IOD/IOV Experiments

The European Commission has opened a call for expression of interest for In Orbit Demonstration/Validation (IOD/IOV) Experiments. This call opened on 28 March 2022 and will remain open until the submission deadline on 31 May 2022.

Background of this Call

One of the main objectives of the Space strategy for Europe is to foster a globally competitive and innovative European space sector in particular by improving support to technological maturation, for sub-systems, equipment and technologies, including in-orbit demonstration and validation activities, to reduce time to market.

To ensure EU non-dependence and competitiveness in technologies, there is a clear need for a regular, sustainable, cost-effective and responsive In Orbit Demonstration/Validation (IOD/IOV) service in the EU. Space flight heritage in real conditions and environment is often required to de-risk innovations such as new technologies, products, concepts, architectures, and operations techniques are they for unique or recurrent, institutional or commercial missions.

Although flight opportunities do exist, these are often difficult to find ad hoc at affordable cost and/or in the required timeframe.

In Orbit Demonstration of Proba-3 Satellite
Artist impression of Proba-3 satellites, for in-orbit demonstration of technologies and techniques (image: ESA)

For this purpose, a set of activities to provide IOD/IOV services were introduced in the Horizon 2020 programme for Research and Innovation. This activities are continued also under the successor programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe that cover all necessary tasks to prepare, provide and operate spacecraft(s), together with the related ground segment, which accommodates the selected IOD/IOV experiments.

The main challenge of the overall IOD/IOV activities is to provide a regular and cost effective solution for common flight ticket actions (management, spacecraft design, including reuse of existing solutions, assembly, integration and tests, launch and operations), based on EU solutions both for the spacecraft (i.e. platform, experiments accommodation, operations in orbit including preparation) and associated Ground Segment and for the launch services.

The activities foreseen in the Horizon Europe In-orbit demonstration/ Validation (IOD/IOV) service include:

  • System studies, at ground and space level, including the compatibility with the available launchers;
  • Input to the launch mission analysis performed by the launch service provider;
  • Selection, assembly, integration and testing of the spacecraft(s) and related ground segment;
  • Management of interfaces with and between the different IOD/IOV experiments, between the spacecraft and the launcher and between the spacecraft and the ground segment;
  • Preparation of the spacecraft(s) for the flight;
  • In-orbit testing and operations including data provision.

For experiments forming a complete system (i.e. system provided as a spacecraft ready to be launched), the actions will include the provision of flight opportunities with EU manufactured launchers. These encompass mission analysis, verification of interfaces between the spacecraft and the launcher, preparation of launch campaign and flight up to the injection of the spacecraft(s) on the required orbit(s).

Concerning launch aspects, IOD/IOV should support the European launcher exploitation policy, therefore relying as far as possible on EU manufactured launcher solutions launched from the EU territory.

Objectives of this IOD/IOV Call

The purpose of this Call for Expression of Interest is to gather feasible experiments, which could be considered for IOD/IOV actions.

IOD/IOV experiments are defined as innovative technologies, products, concepts, architectures, and operations techniques that require in orbit demonstration/validation. Experiments may be instrument, equipment, technologies, system experiment, missions, industrial payloads, etc. Experiments may be accommodated on IOD/IOV Spacecraft(s) or be provided as complete system(s).

Only experiments which have reached a sufficient maturity level will be considered to proceed as IOD/IOV experiments. It shall be noted that experiments will have to bear the costs of their own development up to and including the flight models.

Experiments will be self-standing with direct mechanical, thermal, electrical and data interfaces with the IOD/IOV spacecraft. Direct interfaces mean that the development of a dedicated space unit managing each proposed experiment is not required. Complete systems will be directly compatible with the selected launcher.

How to Submit?

The Call for Expression of Interest shall be open until Monday 31 May 2022, 17:00 (UTC). Applicants are invited to submit their proposal for one or several experiments. Each experiment shall constitute a separate candidature file.

All information, including detailed documentation about this call and the submission procedure can be found on the website of the European Commission here.

Previous Horizon IOD/IOV Programme Banner (image: European Commission)

About the European Union IOD Programme

The European Union In-Orbit Demonstration and Validation Programme (IOD/IOV) is a Union initiative enabling new technologies to be tested in orbit by providing aggregation and, if needed, launch services and operations. This initiative enables to give flight heritage.

The IOD/IOV European initiative has several expected benefits:

  • The global competitiveness of the European space sector: IOD/IOV allows technologies to be effectively tested in orbit, while reducing the time it would otherwise take to bring them to market. In doing so, the IOD/IOV initiative contributes to space entrepreneurship CASSINI
  • EU non-dependence: IOD/IOV supports EU non-dependence by providing a cost-effective services based on EU solutions both for the spacecraft and for the launch services;
  • A European Higher Education system: IOD/IOV aims to provide a generation of European engineers with hands-on experience in real-world space programmes.

through the first Call for Expression of Interest for IOD/IOV experiments in April 2018. This Call attracted 57 applications from various entities across Europe from SMEs to large companies, universities and research organisations. There were 26 successful applications related to technology innovation for Earth Observation, telecommunication, space science, navigation and space environment.

In September 2020, the first selected IOD/IOV experiment, UPMSat-2, was successfully launched on board of the Vega SSMS Proof of Concept flight.

About the IOD/IOV initiative

UPMSat-2 cube 2.png

The IOD/IOV initiative started under the Horizon 2020 programme Research and Innovation Programme. It continues to be funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme. Horizon Europe enables the space R&I community to develop innovative space technologies and operational concepts from idea to demonstration in space, and to foster the use of space data for scientific, public, or commercial purposes.

The In-Orbit Demonstration and Validation initiative (IOD/IOV Call) will allow academia, research organisations, SMEs and larger industrial companies to effectively test new technologies in orbit, reducing the time it would otherwise take to bring them to market. It will also contribute to the EU space skills agenda by exposing students to activities required for designing, building, testing, integrating, and operating a satellite.

It will positively impact the competitiveness of European space research, the space industry and further demonstrate the capability of European organisations. These missions will contribute to maintaining Europe’s place as a global space leader, while shaping solutions for the future.

Main steps, from experiment selection to flight:

mage square open until 31 of May_0.png
  1. Call for Expression of Interest and IOD/IOV Experiments pre-selection: this process is handled by the European Commission with the support of ESA. The call is open until 31 May 2022 at 17:00 UTC. Please find it here
  2. Procurement action for aggregation services and launch services and operations: this process is handled by ESA on behalf of the European Commission. The tender actions will be published on the ESA-Star portal and reference to the actions will be reported on the Europa website;
  3. IOD/IOV Experiment delivery for aggregation on spacecraft;
  4. Launch and operations.

More Open Calls

You can find more open calls for space projects and space data on the Groundstation.Space Open Calls pages.

Remco Timmermans

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