The ONION project, co-funded under the Horizon 2020 EU research and development programme, has the ambition of identifying and characterising solutions to meet emerging needs in the European Earth Observation market by exploring Fractionated and Federated Satellite Systems (FFSS), which aim at proposing an evolution of constellations such as Planet.
In analogy with terrestrial networks, these systems envision the distribution of satellite functionalities amongst multiple cooperating spacecraft (which are seen as the nodes of a network), flying on different orbits, for various applications ranging from Earth Observation to Space Science.
ONION focuses on a pragmatic, progressive, and scalable approach to improve existing and future space missions in order to foster competitive European imaging from space. A gradual evolution is foreseen, transitioning from established “old-school” paradigms to innovative concepts, while always keeping the user requirements at the centre of the design process.
The 2017 Copernicus Masters winner is FSSCat: Federated Satellite System 6U tandem mission for sea ice and soil moisture monitoring, submitted by Prof Adriano Camps & Alessandro Golkar (Visiting Professor), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC
Thales Alenia Space, Telespazio, and Spaceflight Industries partner to accelerate the BlackSky geospatial platform and short revist time constellation
On 15/09/2017 the Space Alliance, formed by Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, signed a partnership with the US-based company Spaceflight Industries to boost the BlackSky constellation.
The agreement includes the following elements:
SpaceNews has highlighted Earth-i Ltd plans to launch a satellite late in 2017 to capture high-resolution video imagery in colour and pave the way for a constellation of similar spacecraft.
On 03/02/2017 Planet announced it was acquiring rival Terra Bella from Google for an undisclosed sum.
A recent article from SpaceNews highlights NASA's plans to purchase tens of millions of dollars of Earth science data from constellations of small satellites in 2017 to understand if data can meet its needs.