The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded Spire Global, Inc. a €16 million phased contract for the EURIALO project, which will develop the preliminary design and demonstrator for a global space-based independent aircraft surveillance system. The project framework is part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) in its Directorate of Connectivity and Secure Communications.

The EURIALO project intends to design and demonstrate the viability of a novel system that uses a satellite constellation to track aircraft by determining their exact position based on different times of arrivals of radio frequency (RF) signals. This technology is known in the aviation industry as multilateration (MLAT).

Spire will develop the mission and system design for a satellite constellation in low Earth orbit (LEO) and then design, deploy and operate a demonstrator mission that proves the performance of the system and its critical technologies. Following the initial design and demonstrator phases, there is an opportunity to be selected to build out the full constellation, which would foresee a large number of satellites.

“Space-based aircraft tracking and geolocation is the future of air traffic management to ensure safe, secure and sustainable air travel at a global scale,” said Peter Platzer, CEO, Spire Global. “We are honored to be selected by ESA to lead the development of this first-of-its-kind aviation surveillance system demonstrator, leveraging our more than 500 years of flight heritage operating satellites in space and expertise in radio frequency technology.”

“ESA has a long track record of supporting companies that use satellites to improve aviation safety, security and sustainability, ensuring European autonomy and improving the lives of European citizens by creating jobs and prosperity,” added Javier Benedicto, acting director of connectivity and secure communications at ESA. “We are proud to partner with Spire Global with its strong heritage to develop a best-in-class satellite system design to demonstrate a system that will revolutionise air traffic management and surveillance for safer skies.”

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