D-Orbit Wins Italian Contracts to Fly Mini Space Lab & Conduct Optical Intersatellite Link Testing

28th Jun 2023
D-Orbit Wins Italian Contracts to Fly Mini Space Lab & Conduct Optical Intersatellite Link Testing

D-Orbit, a prominent player in the European space industry, has been awarded multiple contracts as part of Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan, aimed at revitalising the country’s economy in the aftermath of the pandemic. The contracts, totalling several million euros, will facilitate the testing of innovative technologies and the establishment of a cutting-edge orbiting laboratory.

Under a 6 million euro (£5.17 million) contract, D-Orbit will be responsible for evaluating the performance of optical inter-satellite links for the IRIDE (International Report for Innovative Defense of Earth) observation constellation. This low Earth orbit network will incorporate imaging payloads to monitor Italy’s critical infrastructure, air quality, and meteorological conditions. Laser communications technology, supplied by Italian startup Stellar Project, will be tested onboard D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier.

Establishing the In-Orbit Space Lab

Additionally, D-Orbit has secured a contract worth approximately 4.8 million euros in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency to establish the In-Orbit Space Lab. The laboratory’s space segment will be housed within the ION Satellite Carrier, with ground and space segments being integrated by geospatial data company Planetek Italia. Aiko, an Italian firm specializing in spacecraft artificial intelligence, will contribute to the project by overseeing automation and data processing.

The In-Orbit Space Lab is set to possess significant on-orbit computing capabilities, according to Stefano Antonetti, D-Orbit’s Vice President of Business Development and Institutional Sales. Antonetti emphasized that D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier has been purposefully designed to play a crucial role in this infrastructure.

Success under Italy’s Recovery Plan

Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan has proved to be a catalyst for space companies, with D-Orbit securing multiple multimillion contracts through the initiative alone. The company expressed enthusiasm about participating in national projects that will leave an indelible mark on the space sector and collaborating with renowned and innovative Italian companies in the industry.

In addition to the recently announced contracts, D-Orbit also won a substantial 26 million euro contract for providing a synthetic aperture radar satellite and managing flight operations. This contract also includes a 24 million euro option for a second SAR satellite. Italian radar technology company MetaSensing will manufacture the SAR sensor.

Leading the In-Orbit Servicing Consortium

D-Orbit is part of a consortium led by Thales Alenia Space that clinched a significant 235 million euro contract from the Italian Space Agency. The consortium aims to conduct Italy’s inaugural in-orbit servicing demonstration and comprises members such as Avio, Leonardo, and Telespazio. The mission will involve two satellites and related ground infrastructure, showcasing a range of satellite services, including inspection, repositioning, refuelling, and on-orbit assembly.

Renato Panesi, D-Orbit’s Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer, expressed immense pride in working alongside such esteemed companies and eagerly anticipated contributing to this monumental achievement for Italy’s national space industry. D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier will serve as the target satellite for the demonstration mission and will be responsible for managing activities related to the target satellite as well as overseeing the refuelling system.

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