Space traffic management | Funding & tender opportunities


Focus area: Boosting the effectiveness of the Security Union (SU)

The combination of cheaper technology and new investors led by the internet sector is lowering the threshold for access to space. The number of space actors, public and private, is increasing, and with them comes the development of new space technologies and markets (such as reusable launchers, mass produced small satellites, in-orbit servicing and operations, space mining, sub-orbital flights).

As a result, the number of objects in orbit will likely increase dramatically in the near future as well as new types of activities are emerging raising concerns for launcher operations, safe access to and operations in space and long-term sustainability of space.

To cope with this evolution, those future space operations from the Newspace may require new technical guidelines or new best practices for “Space Traffic Management” (STM) in order to preserve the space environment.

This evolution is currently taking place in the US with the expected involvement of the Department of Commerce on space safety. Europe must be an actor of this change in order to maintain its autonomy for safely accessing and using space.


NASA has more than a dozen Earth science spacecraft/instruments in orbit studying all aspects of the Earth system (oceans, land, atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere), with several more planned for launch in the next few years.


• Providing networking opportunities for stakeholders from the private space sector including research entities and the public space sector (space agencies) in order to identify responsibilities and key technologies to manage the increasing number of objects reaching orbit and performing re-entry;
• Assessing available and needed technologies and capabilities, best practices, standards and guidelines to develop a STM, including in terms of costs, feasibility and effectiveness, taking into account amongst others experiences from the EU SST and EU SSA, ESA-Cleanspace and Cleansat Programmes as well as international developments in the context of the United Nations (UNOOSA)
• Proposing a set of STM guidelines and best practices and evaluating their organisation and impact on the operations of spacecraft for space traffic management.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 1.50 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Proposals under this topic may be subject to security scrutiny if they could potentially lead to security-sensitive results that should be classified (see guide for classification available at the Funding & Tenders Portal).


Expected Impact:

• A comprehensive overview of technical challenges to be addressed in terms of guidelines and best practices;
• A description of the possible roles of current institutional and industrial actors;
• An assessment of the paths for the SSA evolution to support safe and sustainable space operations;
• An identification of the benefits for the EU space market development, for European sovereignty as well as for international cooperation.

Application Deadline: 5 March 2020 17:00:00 Brussels time
Source: European Commission


HOW IT WORKS: The International Space Station


NASA Earth Science instruments on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA


Construction of the Integrated Truss Structure over New Zealand 


STS-116 Shuttle Mission Imagery Backdropped by a colorful Earth, astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. (left) and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Christer Fuglesang, both STS-116 mission specialists, participate in the mission’s first of three planned sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station. The landmasses depicted are the South Island (left) and North Island (right) of New Zealand.

The International Space Station (ISS) will be the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once — it is being built piecemeal with large sections added continually by flights of the Space Shuttle.

To function, the ISS needs trusses to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. These trusses are huge, extending over 15 meters long, and with masses over 10,000 kilograms. Pictured above earlier this month, astronauts Robert L. Curbeam (USA) and Christer Fuglesang (Sweden) work to attach a new truss segment to the ISS and begin to upgrade the power grid. Credit: NASA

 More information: HOW IT WORKS: The International Space Station



South America, the white stripe of the Andes, and the Moon in the background



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