(Evropská komise)
European Union  |  October 09, 2023 12:00:00, updated

EU launches three new missions in space for validation of new technologies and innovation in orbit

EU launches three new missions in space

Today, three new In-Orbit Demonstration and Validation (IOD/IOV) missions were launched onboard of the European launcher Vega flight VV23 from the European spaceport in French Guyana, under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The three missions, six satellites and nine experiments, will allow the test of technologies with a wide variety of application, which are detailed below.

The European Union IOD/IOV programme allows experiments to be tested in orbit and get flight heritage (validation in real environment) for scientific, public, or commercial purposes. The test of technologies in orbit is the final step before placing them on the market. Through the IOD/IOV missions, the European Union, supported by the European Space Agency, is closing the gap between the development of a technology and its commercialisation. This is a fantastic way to boost the competitiveness of the European space industry through innovation, and to enhance European scientific excellence.

The SYNDEO-1&2 cubesat mission is aggregating seven IOD/IOV experiments, while the ESTCube-2 and ANSER missions are provided as ready to fly satellites for in-orbit demonstration.

In total, in this Vega launch, entities from six European countries will benefit from IOD/IOV services.

  1. SYNDEO-1 & SYNDEO-2: for the first time under the Horizon 2020 the EU is launching aggregated missions of seven experiments covering different space themes from space science, technology, propulsion, space traffic management. The missions are implemented by the Dutch aerospace company ISISpace and the payloads were produced by universities and SMEs from Belgium, Spain, France and Czechia.
  2. ESTCube-2: a mission developed by a group of space students from University of Tartu (Estonia) consisting of a 3U cubesat to demonstrate deorbiting with plasma brake technology and qualify a deep-space nanospacecraft platform for future missions that will use the electric solar wind sail.
  3. ANSER: developed by the Spanish Institute INTA (Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial) whose objective is to study and monitor the water quality of the reserves of the Iberian Peninsula by means of spectrometric techniques. It consists of a cluster of 3X3U Cubesats that will fly in formation in low earth orbit.

Ultimately, the entire space ecosystem is supported through the IOD/IOV program of the Commission, from universities and research centres to SMEs and satellite manufacturers. IOD/IOV also supports an autonomous access to Space by relying on European launch solutions. It is instrumental to the CASSINI initiative of the Commission to support the fast development of new commercial entrants in space.


The IOD/IOV programme of the Commission launched the first call of interest in 2018 under Horizon 2020. It attracted more than 50 proposals from various European entities, from SMEs to large companies, universities, and research organisations. Successful applications relate to technology innovation for Earth observation, positioning navigation and timing, satellite communication and space science. In September 2020, the first selected IOD/IOV experiment, UPMSat-2, was successfully launched on board the Vega launcher. The three new missions launched in October 2023 are part of the selection.

Currently, two parallel Calls for Expression of Interest are open to gather experiments that could be considered for IOD/IOV actions that cover aggregation, if needed, launch services and operations. Application is open for: 1) IOD/IOV Experiments needing aggregation; and 2) Ready to Fly IOD/IOV satellites. More information are available here.

Technologies to be tested through the SYNDEO 1 Cubesat:

  • Miniature star tracker for attitude determination: the objective is to test in orbit a high accuracy and low-cost miniaturized Star Tracker for attitude determination – Solar MEMS Technologies S.L. (SME – Spain).
  • Demonstration of a high-accuracy CubeSat Attitude Determination and Control System: the objective is to validate a high-accuracy compact (CubeSat) attitude determination and control system (ADCS) with novel star tracker and reaction wheels. – KU Leuven (University - Belgium).
  • Demonstrating an arc second accurate CubeSat star tracker: validation of a star tracker including a novel star tracker algorithm, novel calibration methods in orbit, and the validation of the baffle and opto-mechanical design. – KU Leuven (University - Belgium).
  • RADIOX: RADiation effects during In Orbit Flight eXperiment: the goal is to experimentally verify a novel radiation sensor. The radiation sensor is based on an electronic memory in which errors due to energetic particles are monitored. The radiation intensity is detected by measuring the number of errors in the memory – KU Leuven (University – Belgium).

Technologies to be tested through the SYNDEO 2 Cubesat:

  • Spacepix Radiation Monitor (SXRM): on-orbit validation and qualification of the fully developed radiation detector based on SpacePix ASIC in space environment by means of a full-scale prototype of the tracking radiation detector in the orbital radiation field (measuring flux of electrons, protons and heavy ions) – Esc Aerospace s.r.o (SME – Czechia).
  • In-orbit low-frequency noise characterization towards the magnetic measurement system for LISA: the objective of the IOD is the validation of part of the magnetic diagnostics system for LISA, in particular the magnetic sensor and its associated electronic noise reduction techniques at sub-millihertz frequencies. – Universidad de Cádiz (University – Spain).
  • In orbit demonstration of Plasma Jet Pack 0-30 W: the proposed experiment consists in the IOD of an electric thruster - PJP Plasma Jet Pack- using metal -tungsten- as fuel and enhanced by magnetic coil. The thruster aims at being adopted by small satellites in the 15-30 kg range. – COMAT (SME – France).

For More Information



This launch will allow innovation and new technologies to be tested in orbit. It is demonstrating, once more, that the EU is playing an active role in space. This is a concrete example of how we are supporting innovation, scientific knowledge and the competitiveness of the European space industry and space start-ups.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market 2023-10-08

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