EU Space: Promising start for the In-Orbit Demonstration and Validation (IOD/IOV) initiative© NASA
On Wednesday at 3:51am (CET) at the European spaceport in Kourou, the UPMSat-2 microsatellite was successfully launched aboard the Arianespace’s advanced Vega VV16 carrier rocket developed by Avio SPA. Designed and built by students from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the 50-kg satellite placed in orbit 6 payloads developed by industry, space agencies and research centres. This launch kick-started the first of 26 experiments selected as part of the EU’s IOD/IOV initiative funded under Horizon 2020 Union programme. The other experiments will be launched over the period 2020-22. The EU also contributes to this Proof of Concept demonstration flight of the Vega Small Spacecraft Mission Service. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “The EU is pleased to have contributed to this first ever European launch of more than 50 satellites for more than 20 different customers. Arianespace demonstrates Europe’s capacity to offer new rideshare launch services on global market. IOD/IOV enables the space research community to develop space technologies and test them under real conditions. It supports technology maturity, reduces time to market and guarantees Europe’s continued independent access to space. Such collaboration spurs European innovation.” By providing regular flight opportunities to validate space technologies, the IOD/IOV initiative fosters an innovative and competitive EU space sector. The IOD/IOV initiative allows experiments in various domains such as Earth observation, telecommunication and satellite navigation. While helping the scientific community to build more efficient and robust satellites, it will also enable SMEs, researchers and large companies to bring new technologies to the market in a reduced timeframe. This mission represents a key milestone for Arianespace, which has shown its ability to offer a wide range of innovative and competitive services addressing also the promising nano- and micro-satellite market sub-segment, serving both institutional and commercial needs.