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EU explores harnessing Copernicus for military applications

Sentinel‐1A, launched in 2014, was the first Earth-observation satellite built for Europe's Copernicus programme. (ESA)

The European Union (EU) awarded separate contracts to two consortiums led by Telespazio and OHB System on 23 January to explore the feasibility of exploiting the Copernicus Earth-observation constellation for defence.

The two contracts were awarded as part of the Earth Observation Governmental Service (EOGS), which seeks to bolster the defence and security of the EU member states. The selected consortiums will now compete to explore how best to deliver and implement the service under two simultaneous 12-month long studies.

Work will commence in the first quarter of 2024 and may include the development of new satellite-based reconnaissance capabilities at the European level. The aim is to make the service available to the EU and its member statesin the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework (2028–34).

Germany-based OHB System is leading one of the studies in conjunction with French CS Group and OHB Digital Connect. The contract is valued at EUR2.4 million (USD2.6 million) and includes additional partners: Geosystems, OHB Digital Services, Tekever, Geo4i, OHB Sweden, Officina Stellare, and Bird & Bird.

Telespazio is leading the second study alongside Airbus, e-GEOS, GeoVille, Hisdesat, Leonardo, PwC, and Thales Alenia Space. Additional partners include Constellr, DefSecIntel, EnduroSat, GAF, Hensoldt Analytics, ISDEFE, Planetek Hellas, Preligens, Spacemetric, and Telespazio France.

Copernicus is the EU's Earth-observation programme that provides high-quality imaging for environmental monitoring.

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