The European Commission has contracted with CGI, as part of a consortium, to contribute our expertise in the fields of space and cybersecurity to help build the independent European satellite constellation UN:IO.
UN:IO is expected to begin operating commercial and institutional communication channels by 2025.
The European Union’s top priority for UN:IO is a secure, very fast, sovereign communications network. It plans to launch a European satellite constellation with 400 satellites linked by laser ground stations. As a first step, the European Commission is contributing 1.4 million euros to support a concept study.
The goal of this first phase is to determine how the required capacities can be ensured for both commercial and institutional communications. This includes high-speed internet, autonomous mobility on water, land and in the air, automatic exchange of information between systems, support for humanitarian activities, and applications that benefit government agencies, companies, and residents.
Innovative quantum encryption technology will provide robust protection from cyberattacks. In addition, the project must meet sustainability criteria set by the EU’s “Green Deal.”
The European Commission’s bid invitation, in which CGI successfully participated, has helped drive new collaboration among large corporations, small and midsized companies, and startups active in the “new space” sector to accelerate the pace of innovation. In recent years, we have invested heavily in our Space division and are supporting the project as a member of the UN:IO consortium, by, among other things, developing an innovative automated concept of operations (CONOPS) for the satellite constellation.
We also are developing specifications for a comprehensive cybersecurity concept for the ground stations and systems to ensure the functionality, stability and reliability of the associated IT. Our other tasks include integrating infrastructure for both the future EU GOVSATCOM initiative and associated pooling and sharing systems like the GOVSATCOM hub.
We also are designing security scenarios to enable the concurrent use of communication services by private users and government institutions.
Ulli Leibnitz, Senior Vice President and head of CGI Space in Germany, stated: “CGI has accumulated relevant experience in the space sector, including being involved in building the global Galileo satellite navigation system. We have been providing complex, reliable software and system solutions for space applications for more than 40 years as a reliable partner to industry and space agencies. We’re therefore very pleased to have this opportunity to support the creation of the European UN:IO satellite network, especially by contributing our expertise in the fields of cybersecurity and space ground system architecture, to help strengthen Europe’s technological autonomy.”
The UN:IO consortium will present its technical solutions in detail to the EU in fall 2022.
Note: This project has received funding from the European Union, represented by the European Commission and the Directorate-General for Defense Industry and Space (DEFIS) under service contract DEFIS/2021/OP/005/2.