CGI develops standardized interfaces for European Space Agency

12 June 2024 3 min. read
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As the European space economy looks to build on early success, leading players are hoping to open it up to private sector investment. CGI has helped to deliver new interfaces to the European Space Agency, which it says will aid the liberalization of the satellite communications market going forward.

"For CGI, this project sets yet another milestone in providing innovative solutions for the satellite communications industry," said Ulli Leibnitz, senior vice president for consulting services and in charge of CGI Space Germany. "The biggest challenge in this project was designing standardized interfaces while aligning the competing interests of European satellite operators and service providers. As a result of this extremely collaborative partnership, we’re now able to release the first version, which provides a solid foundation going forward. We will continue to improve on established open-source communication standards such as TM Forum and MEF and make the results of our work available to the general public."

With an entirely different environment – and lack of regulations – outside the Earth’s atmosphere, the potential for space innovation is said to be ‘immense’. A study from the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company estimates the final frontier will witness a $1.8 trillion gold-rush in the next decade – as many entities are drawn to the burgeoning space market. But that will require the market to be opened up to foreign direct investment and private capital, rather than depending heavily on state investment, as the sector does now.

CGI develops standardized interfaces for European Space Agency

To help enable that, IT and business consulting services provider CGI was commissioned, as part of a consortium, to develop standardized satellite communications interfaces for the European Space Agency (ESA). In addition to enabling the best possible use of available resources, these interfaces will help open up the market to more operators and service providers and encourage long-term cooperation within the European satellite communications industry. The first such open source-based interface is now available in a public repository and being continually refined. 

Version 1.0 of the interface, available in public repository GitHub, includes highly detailed functions that take into account feedback received from both members of the commissioned consortium and external observers. This version will be developed further within an open-source community in response to user feedback and industry requirements. 

The standardized interfaces for the ESA will enable it to “liberalize the satellite communications market,” according to a release from CGI.​ Opening up the market in this way is expected to encourage long-term collaboration within the European satellite communications industry, with interfaces designed to ensure the interoperability of "pooling and sharing" systems for satellite communication services.

"While closely collaborating with everyone involved on this digitalization project, we’ve succeeded in meeting the prerequisites for efficiently using European space capacities and resources, these interfaces will enable the creation of a digital Satcom marketplace, simplifying the match between the demands and the offers," said Stephane Pirio, technical officer at ESA. "A special aspect of this project is that it’s the first one to use agile methods in this field. This has made it possible to very quickly create a working standard that takes market requirements and direct feedback from partners into account."