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Two Consortiums to Explore Future European Satellite Constellation

By Rachel Jewett | December 13, 2021

European Union EU FlagThe European Commission has selected two consortiums of European space companies for initial study on a future European satellite constellation. A consortium called New Symphonie, led by Unseenlabs and Euroconsult, was announced Dec. 8. A second consortium, UN:IO, led by Mynaric, Isar Aerospace, and Reflex Aerospace was announced Monday. 

Both consortiums have been awarded 1.4 million euros ($1.6 million) to put forward a detailed technical concept for their respective proposed constellation architecture. The European Commission wants the eventual constellation to establish Europe’s future sovereign communications infrastructure in space. 

UN:IO is proposing a network of more than 400 satellites, interconnected by Mynaric’s optical communications terminal. While the consortium is exploring technical solutions to report to the EC, it is also building a demonstration satellite with its own capital, targeted to launch as early as 2023. Mynaric, Isar Aerospace, and Reflex Aerospace said about 20 European space companies overall are involved. 

“Satellite communication infrastructure will become as essential for future commerce as physical bridges were in the past. It is good to see Europe intends to catch up on the technological ambition, industrial capability, and geopolitical sovereignty of other nations who are already well on their way building space infrastructure,” commented Bulent Altan, CEO of Mynaric.

In addition to Unseenlabs and Euroconsult, the New Symphonie group includes 22 companies including Anywaves, Avio, Exolaunch, Gomspace, Integrasys, KSAT, and Loft Orbital. It is named after ​​Symphonie, the first operational communication satellite launched in 1974 under Franco-German cooperation. 

“NewSpace, at its core, is about adopting a collaborative, dynamic approach to delivering benefits to society using space technology,” said Pacôme Revillon, Euroconsut CEO. “We look forward to working with the European Commission on this project and playing our role in an increasingly connected, autonomous and secure European Union for all member states.”

This follows after last year, the EC issued a study contract to mainstays of the European space industry including Airbus, Arianespace, and SES, to study the build of a satellite-based connectivity system for the EU. Earlier in the year, consortium leaders said they wanted to have requirement plans by the end of 2021.