Press Release

OHB signs contract for study to develop reconnaissance capabilities at European level

Bremen/Brussels, 23 January 2024 - A consortium led by OHB System AG, a subsidiary of the space and technology group OHB SE, has been selected by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DG DEFIS) to conduct a study to examine the technological and programmatic framework for the development of a new European Earth-Observation service for government-authorised users, which may include the development of new satellite-based reconnaissance capabilities at European level.

The war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and rising political tensions worldwide are increasing the need for the European Union to underpin its decision-making with high-quality, exclusive and reliable information. Reconnaissance using satellites has a special role to play in this context, as images can be taken from space from any point on the Earth's surface without infringing the sovereign rights of other states. So far, however, only individual member states have satellite systems, meaning that reconnaissance data is primarily collected for their own use. This means that both the European Union as a union of states and the majority of member states cannot easily access this information.

In order to close this data gap, DG DEFIS is currently endeavouring to establish an EU-orchestrated service whose core task will be to provide data from various sources on the ground, in the air and in space for the individual member states, the European Commission and the various European security agencies. The raw data collected and the data products created from it will not only be used for military reconnaissance, but will also support the work of a wide range of institutional users from the civilian sector within the EU. The study now awarded to the OHB-led consortium represents a first step in the development of this service.

Signature at the European Space Conference

The contract for the study was signed today by OHB Group CEO Marco Fuchs and Timo Pesonen, Director General of DG DEFIS, at the 16th European Space Conference in Brussels. “It is a great opportunity for OHB to work closely with the European Commission to define such an important system for Europe. We have a strong network of partners and will also involve companies from the New Space sector in our work, so that all players in the space ecosystem can benefit,” explains Marco Fuchs. “We are sure that in the end we will be able to propose a system that is of great value to Europe and all its member states.”

“We are very proud that OHB System AG has been awarded the leadership of the consortium for a further important and major study project of the European Union. We will be able to make very good use of our expertise in space-based reconnaissance to set the right course for Europe's future challenges,” adds Chiara Pedersoli, CEO of OHB System AG.

Timo Pesonen points out: “I am very pleased that today the Commission has secured the support of leading European space companies of all sizes to pave the way towards this important initiative. I expect it to contribute to unlocking the EU space programme’s potential for security and defence, which is all the more important in our current geopolitical landscape.”

The project will run for twelve months and has a contract value of 2.4 million euros. In addition to OHB System AG as the coordinator, OHB Digital Connect GmbH as the expert for satellite operations and the French CS Group, which is contributing its many years of experience in satellite ground systems and image data processing, are leading the implementation. Further partners in the European consortium are Geosystems (Germany and Greece), OHB Digital Services (Germany), Tekever (Portugal), Geo4I (France), OHB Sweden (Sweden), Officina Stellare (Italy) and Bird & Bird (France).

The signatories at the EU Space Conference in Brussels. From left to right: DG DEFIS Director General Timo Pesonen, CS GROUP CEO Pierre Lopez, OHB CEO Marco Fuchs, Telespazio CEO Luigi Pasquali, EUSPA Executive Director Rodrigo da Costa and SatCen Director Ambassador Sorin Ducaru.
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