The overall goal of this Challenge is to ensure Europe is able to service and protect its own Space infrastructure, avoiding the risk of losing its strategic autonomy, and enhance the competitiveness of its space industry by encouraging the emergence of innovative, interoperable, scalable, and autonomous “customer-driven” innovative space technologies and services.
In terms of technological developments, the specific objectives of this Challenge are:
- To have the means to inspect spacecraft in orbit, to augment satellite capabilities and resilience;
- To develop autonomous and in-space collision avoidance capabilities e.g., use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/ Machine Learning (ML) for collision avoidance manoeuvres, space debris positioning data and develop in-space mobility propulsion capabilities;
- To further mature assembly and manufacturing in orbit with different applications (e.g., in-orbit, cis-lunar exploration, Earth observation, space debris inspection, space situational awareness, etc.);
- To collect space debris with a view for recycling, recovering and transforming purposes (e.g., microgravity platforms);
- To design and construct a R&I low Earth orbit unmanned platform assembled in orbit and to host in-orbit microgravity experiments or collect/re-use space debris considering and make use of a sustainable, modular concept for the platform and its operation;
- To scale up disruptive innovations for space situational awareness (SSA), in- space logistics, Earth observation, navigation, satellite communications (SATCOM), and others.
This Challenge aims at developing:
- an European servicing and re-use/recycling capability for servicing European space infrastructure, while contributing to the management and reduction of space debris;
- timely and cost-effective Space Traffic Management services for on-time collision avoidance manoeuvres;
- the re-use, refurbish or recycling of a spacecraft components or launchers upper stages;
- scientific and technological solutions for in-orbit services and re-use/refurbishing and recycling of old spacecraft (e.g. satellites, rockets upper stages or critical raw materials etc.);
- Innovative propulsion solutions for in-space mobility of spacecraft;
- Innovative technologies for space transportation, Earth observation, navigation, satellite communications, space science, space situational awareness.
It is expected that EU companies generate new contracts from new markets, together with significant cost-savings for satellite owners. Affordable and cost-effective on orbit satellite servicing technologies will first benefit the EU space economy, through an increased competitiveness of EU space industry. The boom of an innovative in-space servicing (IISS) industry will result in much broader economic and market spill over effects.
Applications to this EIC Accelerator Challenge may request an investment component of above EUR 15 million in duly justified cases (a request above EUR 15 million investment is allowed in duly justified cases -see Accelerator call text).
In order to protect the strategic interests of the Union and its Member States, the contract may set specific conditions and milestones if this is necessary to ensure that technologies of a strategic nature for open autonomy are not directly or indirectly controlled by third countries not associated to Horizon Europe or by legal entities of non-associated third countries.
Where relevant, companies supported under this Challenge will have the opportunity to benefit from the in-orbit demonstration and validation services supported by Horizon Europe, Cluster 4 Space.
For further information, please see the EIC Work Programme 2023.