Since the third CubeSat Industry Days event was held in June 2017 with over 250 participants, there has been further progress in European CubeSat system capabilities, subsystem products/technologies, launch services, and mission operations experience. The market is widening, CubeSat industry growth continues to gather pace, and government as well as commercial customers are starting to utilise these small systems in constellations for delivering applications.
Through the ESA General Support Technology Programme (GSTP), two CubeSat In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) missions have been successfully completed with three more due for launch in 2019. There are also several more IOD CubeSat projects and technology development activities ongoing with industry/research institutes, all aimed at maturing enabling miniaturized technologies and getting them to orbit as quickly as possible to validate their end use for future operational missions. The ESA roadmap for CubeSat IOD mission and technology developments has been presented to Member States at the Industrial Policy Committee in September 2018, including proposals for high impact IOD missions & their critical technologies in the categories of Low Earth Orbit Constellations, Close Proximity Operations, and “beyond LEO” CubeSats. Furthermore, CubeSat projects & future studies have been initiated in other ESA programmes too (e.g. Telecommunications, Earth Observation, Human & Robotic Exploration, Science).
The event serves as a forum to exchange information on the latest industry developments/future priorities and the ESA activities in the CubeSat nano-satellite domain, reflect on technology/mission roadmaps, as well as to discuss the technical/regulatory challenges facing the industry in sustaining further growth and competitiveness in this innovative and dynamic segment of the space sector.