18 February 2021


Media Updates, News, Security, Space

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  • RHEA Group signs a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to support the Space Safety Programme at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC).
  • RHEA led consortium will provide technical and scientific services across all three of the programme’s domains: space weather, space debris and natural near-Earth objects.

RHEA Group is leading the consortium awarded a 3-year contract by ESA to support the Space Safety Programme (S2P) at ESOC in Darmstadt, Germany. This programme aims to ensure European autonomy in accessing and using space in a safe and secure environment. Its primary goal is to address threats to our planet and to humanity and our assets (in space and on Earth) from hazards originating in space, in particular asteroids, space debris and space weather events caused by solar activity.

S2P is part of ESA’s Space Safety and Security programmatic ‘pillar’, which in turn is one of the four thematic areas of work within ESA’s Space19+ programme. S2P started in 2020 and further develops the successful Space Situational Awareness Programme, which commenced in 2009. It will advance ESA’s capabilities with respect to countering hazards from space and consolidate its activities for sustainable exploitation of human and non-human space flight, as well as protection from space threats.

S2P’s objectives cover three domains:

  • space weather monitoring, nowcasting and forecasting of all kinds of related phenomena
  • space debris and ‘clean space’ through strategies of avoiding space debris and active removal
  • planetary defence through protection from natural near-Earth objects, such as asteroids and comets.

A service team of 15 scientists and engineers from the RHEA led consortium will provide expert technical support to all three domains, covering investigation of phenomena and the operation and development of key IT systems involved in handling, processing and dissemination of data and products. They will also monitor industrial development activities and perform verification and acceptance testing of deliverables.

Aldo Barbieri, RHEA’s Business Manager in Germany said: “We are delighted to be leading the consortium that has been awarded this contract. RHEA has been involved in ESA space safety programmes for more than 10 years and are proud to be providing a team of experts to work on this important ESA programme.”

Aldo added,” When considering our safety and security in and from space, it is easy to focus on threats that originate on Earth and ignore those posed by hazards from space, such as solar storms that can cause massive damage to electricity grids as well as other infrastructures. The work that ESA has done through the Space Situational Awareness Programme and is now continuing to do through the Space Safety Programme is vital to give us the best chance of forecasting and tackling such hazards. This is not just about protecting us on Earth. We are now all very reliant on services and data provided by satellites and humanity has great ambitions in space – both are threatened by debris created by mankind and the continual hazards occurring in space.”

Press contact: Isabelle Roels