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ESA Open Invitation to Tender: 1-11338
Open Date: 04/10/2022 11:49 CEST
Closing Date: 06/12/2022 13:00 CEST

Recent years have seen a surge of development activity within the launch vehicle sector, with many new projects being outlined by both existing players, new entrants, and even start-up companies. These new projects span a broad range of capabilities: from systems designed for placing CubeSats into Very Low Earth Orbit, up to a new class of "Super Heavy-Lift" vehicles focused on interplanetary missions supporting human exploration. Whilst not all these projects will reach fruition, it is likely that some will enter service within the coming years. The Super Heavy-Lift vehicles being developed or discussed today are expected to provide a step-change in launch capabilities, e.g., 5 to 10 times greater launch mass capacity to LEO, 4-fold increase in allowable payload volume, 4 times increase in launch cadence, and a 10-fold reduction in launch cost. Whilst not the primary motivation behind their development, the use of Super Heavy-Lift vehicles for deploying (communications) satellites into LEO, MEO, or GEO may have a significant disruptive influence on the future satellite communications market. Impacts to satellite design, AIT processes, operations, deployment, and corresponding business models could all result. By way of a recent illustration, the introduction of the SpaceX Falcon 9 resulted in thedevelopment of the Boeing 702SP platform and the dominance of electric propulsion for orbit raising in commercial GEO missions, as well as the development of larger platform designs (such as that used for SES-12 by Airbus Defence and Space). The proposed activity would therefore comprise an assessment of the impact that these new Super Heavy-Lift vehicles might have on the satcom market. Opportunities for radically different approaches to mission design, satellite sizing, lifetime, reliability, and deployment scenarios will be investigated. In addition to the impact on conventional/established satcom mission scenarios, the activity would also address novel mission concepts that might be enabled by the introduction of such a disruptive capability. For example, the larger volume in the launcher fairing could allow very-large antenna reflectors to be used, the reduction in launch costs per kg could lead to satellites with a massive increase in on-board processing power, enable the use of low-cost pressurised/shielded COTS-based payloads, or the use of completely different structural design concepts. As a far-fetched goal - as these launchers are designed for human spaceflight - human servicing of satellites could even be imagined, as was the case for the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition, such new launch capabilities might enable new deployment concepts such as scheduled' launch services to be established, whereby launches are manifested at regular intervals with satellites embarked as and when they are ready to fly. Additionally, constellations comprising large numbers of satellites could be deployed in a much shorter timeframe than currently possible, with corresponding impacts for satellite design lifetime, required manufacturing capacity, and reduced time to market for new systems. These elements would also be investigated under the proposed study, as would how to accommodate and deploy a broad range of satellite types and sizes (from nano to very large) from within a Super Heavy-Lift launch vehicle fairing. The corresponding impact on satellite AIT, the required launch-base facilities, and associated logistics will also be considered. The activity would commence with a survey and assessment of the capability of all credible Super Heavy-Lift launch vehicles currently being developed or announced from within the U.S. and China as well as other regions, both governmental and privately funded. Based on the capabilities identified, the main disrupting factors will be determined and the resulting new satcom solutions and concepts enabled will be identified. Finally, the activity will identify and recommend any developments needed to capitalise on these new capabilities, in terms of technologies, products, and services. The activity has been defined, and will be implemented, in coordination with the ESA Directorate of Space Transportation (D/STS).

Estabilishment: ECSAT
ECOS Required: No
Classified: No
Price Range: 200-500 KEURO
Authorised Contact Person: Audrey Ferreol
Initiating Service: TIA-TFE
IP Measure: N/A
Prog. Reference: E/0501-01D - Future Prep 4.0.1
Tender Type: Open Competition
Technology Keywords: 8-A-I-Specification Methods and Tools
Products Keywords: 2-M-4-e-Other

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