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  • OPS-SAT 1 call for Space Cybersecurity Services is now open. More information and how to apply here.

What is OPS-SAT Space Lab?

OPS-SAT Space Lab is an ESA service to help accelerate innovation in OPS related areas. It uses powerful, reconfigurable space elements that can be used for in-flight experimentation not possible or desirable on other missions. The service provides access to these labs for all European industry and institutions, using a fast, cost free, non-bureaucratic process. Industry can concentrate of generating value while ESA assumes the risk of performing these experiments.

Each space element has a different theme:

OPS-SAT 1 (Communication Protocols)

OPS-SAT 1 is a 3U CubeSat launched on December 18th, 2019. It was funded by the ESA General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) and built by Austrian, German, Polish and Danish industry. Its aim is to demonstrate the improvements in mission control capabilities that arise when satellites can fly more powerful on-board computers. Being in orbit for over three years, it has produced numerous publications and validated concepts that are now being adapted by big upcoming space missions. Its success has paved the way for further missions, in which the lessons learned are being incorporated.

For more detailed information about the satellite, a presentation given on the CubeSat can be viewed on YouTube and the presented slides found under publications.

OPS-SAT 2 (Optical and Quantum Communication)

In 2021 ESA ran a study in the Concurrent Development Facility (CDF) to assess the feasibility of extending the OPS-SAT concept to build a flying CubeSat lab that focuses on Optical and Quantum Communications. You can find the CDF report here .

Using the CDF report as inspiration, industry has proposed a future mission to be incorporated into OPS-SAT Space Lab called OPS-SAT VOLT (Versatile Optical Lab for Telecommunications. It is funded by the ARTES Scylight Strategic Programme Line and will be built by UK, Lithuanian and Polish industry. This 12U CubeSat will be equipped with an optical terminal, quantum source, AI computer and hyperspectral camera. Launch is planned for 2025.

In addition, Scylight is opening a thematic call for more European industry proposed missions in the course of 2023.

OPS-SAT's firsts:

How to become an experimenter?

This platform guides experimenters through the software development and testing process, and supports on any upcoming questions or issues. In order to get full access, a registration is required. To become an experimenter, please fill-out the experimenter's form (PDF 413 KB) and send it to the OPS-SAT Experimenter Support Team via email - Only after approval of your application you can register on this community platform. For the complete process of registering and running an experiment, see How to become an experimenter

Seed funding on OSIP

In 2021 12 promising proposals were chosen on ESA's Open Space Innovation Platform to receive financial support in order to realize their experiment. Developed and validated were among others a technique to improve the resolution of satellite images, new data compression algorithms and a new communications protocol. The results are impressive and part of the new software is used operationally on OPS-SAT-1 on a daily basis.
To find out more about the campaign, challenges faced and the experiments themselves, click here.

Results produced by OPS-SAT

Read here all about the early results or view an extensive list of publications here

Post-processed images acquired by OPS-SAT are published on a regular basis and can be found either on the SmartCam- Map or on Flickr.

(Image acquired by OPS-SAT while orbiting above Argentina, near the Andes)

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