European Space Agency awards Spire Global €16 million contract for pioneering satellite-based aircraft surveillance system

Spire will provide a system design and in-orbit technology demonstrator for a satellite constellation to monitor flights globally in real-time.
European Space Agency awards Spire Global €16 million contract for pioneering satellite-based aircraft surveillance system

Today the European Space Agency (ESA)  awarded Spire Global Inc, a global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, 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. 

Spire builds, owns, and operates a fully deployed satellite constellation that uses radio frequency technology to observe the Earth in real-time. 

The data acquired by Spire’s satellites provides global weather intelligence, ship and plane movements, and spoofing and jamming detection to better predict how their patterns impact economies, global security, business operations, and the environment.

Spire also offers Space-as-a-Service solutions that empower customers to leverage its established infrastructure to put their business in space. 

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, a technology 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. 

There is a potential opportunity to be later selected to build out the full constellation, which would foresee a large number of satellites.

The Company will lead a consortium of major industry players for the contract, including ESSP (European Satellite Services Provider), a leading space-based Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) services provider. 

The need for precision remote location monitoring 

Today, surveillance systems often rely on self-reported positions of aircraft, which are derived from GNSS satellites. 

The need for an additional complementary space solution will provide a fully reliable and resilient surveillance solution completing the European CNS infrastructure. 

By independently verifying a plane's location through geolocation MLAT technology, the EURIALO project will provide the most advanced and reliable system for aircraft surveillance, with the ability to track a plane in real-time from takeoff to landing anywhere in the world.

According to Peter Platzer, CEO, Spire Global: 

“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.

We are honoured 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.”

The EURIALO project is mainly funded through the German Space Agency at DLR. 

Fabienne Spreen, German Space Agency at DLR, advisor to the German ESA delegation, shared: 

“This project will contribute to safer, more efficient and sustainable air traffic. Addressing the small satellite market will further boost our industrial base in Germany. Small satellites in near-Earth orbit offer a wealth of opportunities for innovative solutions to our real-world needs.” 

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