LEIT-Space-Competitivenessof the European Space Sector-2015

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Budget: €39,000,000
Deadline Date: 08-04-2015
Programme: Horizon 2020
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Topic:Technologies for European non-dependence and competitiveness

Specific challenge:The space sector is a strategic asset contributing to the independence, security and prosperity of Europe and its role in the world. Europe needs non-dependent access to critical space technologies, which is a conditio-sine-qua-non for achieving Europe’s strategic objectives. "Non-dependence" refers to the possibility for Europe to have free, unrestricted access to any required space technology. Reaching non-dependence in certain technologies will open new markets to our industries and will increase the overall competitiveness of the European Space sector.

Scope:Research in technologies for European non-dependence and competitiveness has been undertaken within the frame of the EC-ESA-EDA joint initiative on Critical Technologies for European non-Dependence, launched in 2008. Critical Components, which are integral part of critical technologies, have also been dealt with in the context of European Space Components Coordination (ESCC) and the Components Technology Board (CTB).

Activities to be proposed in this call will address technologies identified on the list of Urgent Actions as part of the Joint EC-ESA-EDA task force on Critical Technologies (see "Excerpt from Critical Space Technologies for European Strategic Non-Dependence – List of Urgent Actions for 2012/2013" – June 2012 and the update for the 2015 call http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/space/research), focusing on those areas that have not so far benefitted from prior Framework Programme funding and representing the highest potential for being addressed through the co-funding instruments available in Horizon 2020.

A number of priority technologies have been identified for H2020 for 2015:

U4 - Advanced materials and material technology for combustion chambers

U6 - Fibre Optic Gyro (FOG) based Inertial Measurement Unit - IMU

U7 - Power amplification: Travelling Wave Tube (TWT) materials

U12 - High Capacity Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA)

In this context, technological spin in and/or bilateral collaborations should be enhanced between European non-space and space industries and proposals are expected to provide advanced critical technologies that are of common interest to different space application domains (e.g. telecom, Earth-observation, science, etc.), or even with applicability to terrestrial domains.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 2 and 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Without prejudice to the outcome of the evaluation process and with a view to covering all four urgent actions, a maximum of one proposal per identified Urgent Action line will be selected for funding.

Expected impact:

· To reduce the dependence on critical technologies and capabilities from outside Europe for future space applications, as identified in the EC-ESA-EDA Critical Space Technologies for European Strategic Non-Dependence (seeCritical Space Technologies for European Strategic Non-Dependence – Background Document - 2011).

· To develop or regain in the mid-term the European capacity to operate independently in space, e.g. by developing in a timely manner reliable and affordable space technologies that in some cases may already exist outside Europe or in European terrestrial applications. Nevertheless, proposals should strive to go beyond the present state of the art or, preferably, the expected state of the art at the time of completion if alternative technologies are being developed outside Europe.

· To enhance the technical capabilities and overall competitiveness of European space industry satellite vendors on the worldwide market. The proposals are expected to open new competition opportunities for European manufacturers by reducing the dependency on export restricted technologies that are of strategic importance to future European space efforts. They should enable the European industry to get non-restricted access to high performance technologies that will allow increasing its competitiveness and expertise in the space domain.

· Proposals should include a work package dedicated to the development of a commercial evaluation of the technology, and should address how to access the commercial market with a full range (preload) of recurring products.

· Proposals should improve the overall European space technology landscape and complement the activities of European and national space programmes.

Proposals that include development activities up to space qualification will be favoured in terms of their potential impact.

Type of action:Research and innovation action

Topic:Independent access to space

Specific challenge:The ability to access space is a vital strategic capability for Europe as it has been underlined by EU Council in several resolutions and conclusions. Such capability is necessary to ensure a leading position alongside other major spacefaring nations. The present topic will support research into breakthrough technologies to provide access to space which are complementary and in synergy with the on-going wok undertaken by Member States and the European Space Agency to develop solutions for affordable and reliable launcher capabilities. Research efforts should strengthen Europe’s capability in terms of having an available, reliable and competitive launch service and lead to cheaper new solutions to ensure the development of a world-class European space-industry and satellite-based applications and services.

Scope:All possible technologies and launching systems, including partly reusable systems and subsystems, will be considered provided that they can demonstrate complementarity and no overlapping with on-going launcher developments and credible realization options. Due consideration will be given to the potential of these technologies to strengthen competitiveness and cost-efficiency as well to their commercial potential. Areas of potential improvements for conventional launching systems could be: high energy density green propellants, high performance engineered materials for advanced lightweight structures and components, innovative avionics solutions for safer and more reliable launch operations, adaptation and use of the launcher upper stages for providing extra functionality regarding multiple access to space of small payloads and platforms. Regarding innovative systems to access space, proposals should have a consistent approach to prove fulfilment of market demands and superiority over classical systems. It is welcomed to explore new solutions for affordable and reliable launcher capabilities in benefit of the wide spectrum of European space RTD community needs (from sub-orbital to orbital injection).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:The technological developments to be addressed must target either a breakthrough in technologies for accessing space or a relevant optimisation or cost reduction of the launch present propulsion systems in terms of fostering the European capabilities of accessing space. It is welcomed to explore new solutions for affordable and reliable launcher capabilities in benefit of the wide spectrum of European space RTD community needs (from sub-orbital to orbital injection).

Incremental or disruptive advances over current technologies and functionalities must be proven and assessed in terms of economic end-to-end viability. In this context, key advances to achieve a quick and frequent access to space will be prioritised.

Technologies identified not addressed in the equivalent 2014 call will be preferentially considered.

Type of action:Research and innovation actions.

Topic:Bottom-up space technologies at low TRL

Specific challenge:In the mid- and long-term the competitiveness of the space sector depends on the continuous incorporation of brand-new and even disruptive technologies. The European RTD investment in the field of very low-TRL technologies is to be enhanced. A number of challenges in space technologies have parallels to terrestrial challenges, for example in the fields of aeronautics, energy, environment, telecommunications and ICTs, natural resource exploration, sensors, robotics, advanced materials, security, and health.

Scope:New ideas must be incorporated into the current state of the art. As many of the advances come traditionally also from non-space sectors, an active search must be done in non-Space areas of knowledge in addition to the identification of breakthrough technologies from the space sector. This should mobilise the traditional space actors, and non-space actors, to look for space technologies of the future. The aim of this topic is to attract new actors to space and demonstrate technologies that are potentially disruptive and not only incremental. As “push” technologies, these will promise radical improved performances, and will enable emerging missions. Drastical increments in miniaturisation, power reduction, efficiency, versatility, and increased functionality are as well expected.

Proposals based on low TRL[1] (1-3) ideas and technologies which could have a final application in future Space systems are solicited. The target is to demonstrate them up to TRL (4-5). In this second call, proposals on several fundamental areas of knowledge are foreseen, in which for example some of the Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) are playing a major role. In particular, proposals are sought with relevance for the fields of: "energy storage", "energy production", "materials and structures", "additive layer manufacturing techniques", "mechanisms", "wireless power transmission", "high performance and reliable electronics to boost on-board power", and "thermal control management systems" in the domain of space.

The Commission considers that proposals implemented in less than 24 months and requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Only up to two proposals will be financed on each of the eight lines foreseen ("energy storage", "energy production", "materials and structures", "mechanisms", "additive layer manufacturing techniques", "high performance and reliable electronics to boost on-board power", "wireless power transmission" and "thermal control management systems").

Expected impact:Spinning-in of new enabling technologies to space systems up to TRL 4-5 and clear indication of the ways in which these technologies can significantly improve performance and/or reduce costs if further developed.

Proposals should mobilise new incorporation of non-space actors, especially SMEs, and research groups into the space landscape.

Ideally proposals should result in developments affecting a range of sectors.

Type of action:Research and innovation actions


[1] Technology Readiness Levels are defined in part G of the General Annexes. In the specific area of space, further details can be found in the European Space Agency website "Strategic Readiness Level - The ESA Science Technology Development Route". European Space Agency, Advanced Studies and Technology Preparation Division, http://sci.esa.int/sre-ft/50124-technology-readiness-level/05

Topic:Space exploration – Habitat management

Specific challenge:The International Space Station (ISS) is the current cornerstone of European activities in human spaceflight and a pillar of the European strategy for space exploration. With its assembly now complete, and with several years of operations ahead until 2020 and possibly beyond, it should be used to the fullest extent for optimising and broadening the scientific, technological and operational return of Europeans investments. ISS should also be further used as a test-bed for the preparation of future ventures as well as for enabling overall scientific and technological progress and provide benefits to citizens. The selection of these proposals in the area of habitat management will depend on their suitability for research on-board ISS.

Scope:Prepare for demonstrating technologies, and operations techniques and process, critical for future human missions as well as advancing knowledge related to human spaceflight and terrestrial applications for the benefits of citizens. Proposals demonstrating safe and reliable quality control of indoor environment in space including microbial control (e.g. development of early detection and warning systems for environmental contamination and pollution) should be implemented by leveraging synergies between space and non-space actors (e.g. industrial ecology, health sectors). These on-ground preparatory activities are a prerequisite to potential flight hardware development and activities to be conducted on-board the European Columbus module of the ISS.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 and 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impacts:Proposals are expected to prepare the ground for further innovative development of R&D in human spaceflight and future terrestrial applications. Systems are expected to be developed and tested on the ground and demonstrate operational capability (or close to). An important impact is also the potential applicability of the test projects on-board ISS. Results will therefore have to attain the necessary maturity to fulfil this promise.

The results are expected to have a significant impact in stimulating non-space actors' contribution to space exploration. This research topic should attract active participation of researchers in academia and SMEs. The results should be actively disseminated in the relevant scientific publications, as well as towards potential user communities as appropriate.

Type of action:Research and innovation actions

Topic:Scientific exploitation of astrophysics, comets, and planetary data

Specific Challenge:Three specific areas of space science where there is a significant underinvestment when compared to the potential scientific return for Europe are the exploitation of astrophysics, comets, and planetary data.

Europe has an impressive track record in space astrophysics, comets and planetary research. Astrophysics missions such as XMM-Newton, Herschel or Planck, and in coming years Gaia, JUICE, EUCLID, CHEOPS or the James Webb Space Telescope are an opportunity for European researchers. The challenge will however be to allow the European astrophysics community to make the best possible use of those missions by supporting space astronomy observation proposals, using archived data, and making comparisons (including calibrations) between different missions, instruments, and between space and ground-based data. Likewise in comets research the challenge will be to allow the European astronomy community to make the best possible use of the current European mission to a comet (Rosetta), in combination with information from international (e.g. NASA, JAXA) missions and ground-based telescope observations. Europe has also a long experience and deep expertise in planetary missions such as Venus Express, or Cassini-Huygens. The utilisation of data set coming from European and international missions will allow the European planetary community to generate new knowledge and make the best use of past investments.

Scope:Astrophysics proposals shall make use of, or prepare for the use of ESA astrophysics missions, possible in combination with ground-based observations, and/or data from non-ESA missions (e.g. NASA, JAXA, or other national missions). Comets proposals shall prepare for and make use of the Rosetta mission, possibly in combination with ground-based observations, and/or data from non-ESA missions (e.g. NASA, JAXA, or other national missions). Planetary proposals shall make use of European missions and European instruments on-board international planetary missions and/or data from non-ESA missions (e.g. NASA, JAXA, or other national missions).

These activities shall add scientific value through advanced analysis of the data, leading to scientific publications and higher level data products which can be used by other scientists in their studies. This could be done in combination with the development of open source tools for processing and visualisation of astrophysics, comets or planetary data. Enhanced data products should be suitable for feeding back into the ESA archives.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 1.5 million would allow this specific challenge dedicated to astrophysics, comets or planetary data to be addressed appropriately, including through proposals from small teams. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:A higher number of scientific publications based on Europe’s space data, high-level data products made available through appropriate archives, and tools developed for the advanced processing of data. Proposals are expected also to add value to existing activities on European and international levels, and enhance and broaden research partnerships.

Type of action:Research and innovation actions

Topic:International Cooperation in space science


Specific challenge:Europe has a long-standing tradition of international collaboration in space sciences with missions open to international partnerships or by participating to missions of partners (e.g., with USA, Japan, Russia, China, and India). With the increasing international competition in space science Europe should continue to play a leading role in planetary science shaping the research in the field including the elaboration of planetary protection guidelines.

Scope:In line with the objectives of the Union's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with space powers active in planetary science. The diverse range of competences spread among universities, research institutes, and space agencies in different countries in the world, should be harnessed in this proposal in view of establishing a coordinated authoritative position in the planetary protection research field. Networking, experts meetings and workshops resulting in recommendations for further action and guidelines for future missions are part of the effort.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:This activity would allow reviewing the planetary protection status of outer Solar System bodies including small Solar System bodies. That may include to establish a new categorisation and the measures that should be taken (or not) to protect them from Earth-sourced biological and organic contamination. Addressing the categorisations of future missions to the outer Solar System and making recommendations will help improving the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Planetary Protection Policy and help to resolve scientific uncertainties associated with current knowledge. This action should provide the basis for a regular exchange of information on the issue of planetary protection and identify also opportunities for European scientists to participate in future international missions.

Type of action:Coordination and support action

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