Release of the ESA smallsat challenge (ITT)

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Organisation: European Space Agency (ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) recently issued an Open Invitation to Tender (#AO9901) entitled "Scout Mission Concepts and System Consolidation Studies". 

With this ITT, ESA intends to respond to the dynamism of a quickly evolving scientific and technological environment in the Earth Observation (EO) sector by reducing the time and the cost to deliver demonstrations of novel EO techniques and results in the Earth sciences and in related non-commercial applications, taking advantage of new development methodologies, high-risk approaches (e.g. use of Commercial Off The Shelf—COTS—components) and existing assets.

Scout Missions (formerly known as "SmallSat challenge" or "Small Research Mission") will consist of small satellites for rapid prototyping and demonstration purposes of observing techniques and science/applications. Small satellites (e.g. one smallsat or possibly several cubesats in constellation) can be applied to demonstrate disruptive sensor technology or incremental science, while retaining the potential to be subsequently scaled up in larger missions or implemented in future ESA EO programmes.

Scout missions shall be consistent with a strictly contained Cost-at-Completion (30 M at 2019 e.c. for all industrial development costs for the space segment, including launch services, adaptation of existing ground segment or ad hoc ground segment development, and operations of the mission until end of the in-orbit commissioning phase) and with a shorts chedule of maximum three years from the kick-off of the implementation activities of the selected mission(s) to the launch. It is therefore mandatory that candidate missions are based on an observing technique and instrumentation with sufficient scientific and technological maturity from the onset, so as to secure a quantifiable science return in such a limited development period. Emphasis shall be put on innovative instrument development, whereas it is expected to rely on already developed smallsat/cubesat platforms, with adaptations limited to the payload accommodation requirements.

The objective of this procurement is to conduct system consolidation/risk retirement activities—for a maximum budget of 400 k and a duration of 6 months—on (up to 4) selected candidate Scout mission concepts, pending reception of offers of good quality. The proposed activities will be defined and justified with reference to a Mission Definition and Justification Dossier—to be provided by the bidder—which will describe thoroughly the scientific relevance/maturity, the technical definition and justification, the technological maturity and the compliance to the cost and schedule requirements of the proposed mission concept, which will be used as selection criteria during the evaluation of the received proposals.

If you wish to access the documents related to the Invitation to Tender, you have to log in to the ESA Portal.