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D-Orbit secures four multi-million contracts with ASI and ESA
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D-Orbit secures four multi-million contracts with ASI and ESA
by Staff Writers
Fino Mornasco, Italy (SPX) Jun 23, 2023

Space logistics and orbital transportation company D-Orbit secured four multi-million contracts under the framework of Italy's National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). These contracts represent a great opportunity to take part in national projects that will mark historic milestones the space sector and cooperate with some of the most renown and innovative Italian companies in the industry.

IRIDE is one of Europe's largest space programmes for Earth observation initiated by the Italian government that will leverage national competencies and responsibility with the support of the European Space Agency (ESA), which will manage the project, and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). Under the euro 26-million contract D-Orbit will provide one SAR (synthetic aperture radar) satellite and will manage its flight operations segment on behalf of the end user; the deal also includes an option for an additional SAR satellite, worth euro 24 million. The SAR sensor will be implemented by MetaSensing, an Italian company specializing in advanced radar technologies.

D-Orbit is also prime for the "Optical Inter Satellite Link In Orbit Verification" section of the IRIDE program. For this euro 6-milion contract, D-Orbit will provide its orbital transfer vehicle, ION Satellite Carrier, to test the Optical Inter-Satellite Link (OISL), a low power high performance laser communication technology applicable to fields like Earth imagery, weather forecasting, global telecommunications, and internet services. The OISL will be implemented by the Italian space technology startup Stellar Project.

In-Orbit Servicing
D-Orbit is also part of the consortium of companies led by Thales Alenia Space that signed a euro 235 million contract with ASI for the first national in-orbit servicing demonstration mission. The contract has been assigned to a temporary consortium of Italian companies; alongside Thales Alenia Space (joint venture 67% Thales, 33% Leonardo) , which acts as prime contractor, the companies involved in the project are Avio, Leonardo, and Telespazio (joint venture 67% Leonardo, 33% Thales).

"We are very proud to work alongside companies of this caliber" commented Renato Panesi, D-Orbit Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, "and we are truly looking forward to contributing to this historical milestone for the national space industry."

The mission will include two satellites and the related ground operation segments and will carry out various in-orbit demonstrations ranging from close inspection, repositioning, refueling, and deorbiting of spacecraft, to assembly of infrastructures and satellites in orbit. D-Orbit will manage all activities related to the target satellite platform, which is based on the company's proprietary ION platform, and to the refueling system, with the transfer of a fluid from the servicer satellite and the target satellite.

In-Orbit Space Lab
Finally, D-Orbit won a contract of approximately euro 4.8 million with ASI for the In-Orbit Space Lab, a laboratory with a space segment in low earth orbit (LEO) with multiple assets and applications distributed among different payloads/technologies and/or orbiting platforms, and an Earth segment based in the Matera Space Center.

The project will be funded by the Complementary Fund (national investment) under the PNRR for an amount of approximately 7 million euros, with the involvement of the industrial partnership composed of Planetek Italia, D-Orbit, and AIKO.

The prime contractor for the In-Orbit Space Lab is Planetek Italia, an Italian company specialized in geo-informatics, space solutions and Earth observation that will manage the integration of the entire system and of the software environment, which will include an innovative Space App Store; AIKO, a deep-tech company focusing on the development of Artificial Intelligence software to increase the level of autonomy of space missions, will take care of the mission automation through its onboard software for data processing and provide its cutting-edge on-board payload data processing products. D-Orbit will be responsible for the manufacturing and launch of one ION Satellite Carrier, which will then provide the orbital infrastructure needed to gather and elaborate data in orbit.

"This is a fundamental step in building an orbiting edge computing platform" said Stefano Antonetti, D-Orbit's VP Business Development and Institutional Sales. "Our ION Satellite Carrier has been designed to be a key element of such an infrastructure and we're proud to work alongside our partners and the Italian Space Agency, whose brave vision is allowing this project to become a reality".

The implementation of these projects perfectly fits within the commercial roadmap of the Company, providing an opportunity to test their existing solutions in new environments as well as speed up the development of new technologies.

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