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Innovation by the dozen: ESA funds 12 OPS-SAT experiments

on 23 February 2022

ESA's OPS-SAT is a 30-cm CubeSat which packs a powerful onboard computer and an array of instruments that make it the ideal laboratory for testing innovative new technologies in space.

Thanks to the ESA Discovery programme, 12 new experiments will be doing just that, as they develop software, concepts and protocols that push the robust CubeSat to its limits and that could one day be essential parts of future spacecraft missions.

The OPS-SAT Space Lab is ESA's only spacecraft open to innovation for anyone in Europe and enables new and exciting ideas to be tested live in space without the risk of damaging a multi-million-Euro satellite. Last summer, ESA's Discovery programme issued a call for ideas for European industry and academia to apply to win funding and fly their experiments on a flight computer more powerful than any ESA has launched before.

55 proposals in total were submitted through ESA's Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP). 12 have now been awarded funding. The experiment ideas covered a wide range of ESA's activities: telecommunications, spacecraft operations, Earth observation, technology development and more.

With its call for ideas for OPS-SAT experiments, ESA was looking for innovative proposals that would benefit from the opportunity to demonstrate their concept in orbit on an active spacecraft. Proven experience in space and the investment of ESA funding are important steps for a concept's development and can help further legitimise it in the view of other potential stakeholders.

OSIP provides a flexible platform that helps ESA discover novel ideas and invest in unconventional activities to support the advancement of the European space industry. The platform brings together exciting ideas from companies and institutions in Europe with ESA experts to take them to the next level.

More details here

Image credit: ESA–Stijn Laagland