In-Orbit Demonstration Programme Opens Call for Mission 3 Proposals

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Today, the In-Orbit Demonstration Programme, a globally unique small satellite testbed programme that aims to support NewSpace businesses, opens a new call for proposals for Mission 3 (IOD-3) with the potential to launch mid-2020.

With a £500k investment from Innovate UK, IOD-3 has been upgraded from a 3U to a 6U satellite, a bigger platform offering a larger payload opportunity, increased power generation and the opportunity to work with the Catapult and AAC Clyde teams to tailor the design to specific mission needs.

IOD offers a fact-track, low-cost route to space to help companies accelerate their proof-of-concept and test their service in space.  The journey from proposal acceptance to launch typically takes just 18-months – the quickest development time in the space industry.

Created and led by the Satellite Applications Catapult, the IOD programme currently has six missions in total; two have been awarded (IOD-1 and IOD-5) with IOD-2 and IOD-6 mission partners due to be announced early 2019.

IOD-1 with Orbital Micro Systems (OMS) is designed to deliver precision weather data for a range of industries from aerospace to agriculture.  The mission has reached payload integration stage with platform provider Clyde Space, and is due to launch from the International Space Station (ISS), with a platform supplied by NanoRacks, in 2019.

William Hosack, CEO, OMS said, “IOD has delivered on its promise to provide a fast and affordable way to get our service into space. Being part of the IOD programme means we are in a stronger position to quickly prove our operational capability to our customers.”

Chris Brunskill, Head of Access to Space at the Satellite Applications Catapult said, “The IOD Programme is a unique service making it faster, cheaper and easier to access space. IOD-3 is a great opportunity for companies with a larger payload to prove to their stakeholders and future users that their technology delivers the data they need to build their business. The further added opportunity with this upgrade is that we will be able to work with the organisation selected and provide additional support to define the platform requirements.”

Applications for IOD-3 are invited from individual companies or consortia, but all proposals are required to demonstrate the long-term commercial viability of the product or service the mission is testing. At all stages of the mission journey, IOD customers can access technical and business support tailored to their requirements to ensure their mission enables them to accelerate their data service to market.

Each applicant will be required to invest in the mission, but the securing of the platform and launch through the IOD Programme funding greatly reduces the overall cost of the mission.

The deadline for proposals is 10 January 2019.  All relevant information and application forms can be found on the Satellite Applications Catapult website.

Companies from outside of the UK are eligible to enter, but the proposal must include information on how the company will directly deliver economic benefit to the UK.

Applications will be reviewed by the IOD board and all participants will receive detailed feedback to help with refining their commercial offer.

The IOD team is also happy to speak with any organisation with an early-stage idea, but who might not be ‘mission-ready’ to see how they might be able to support the development of the proposal.  The IOD team can be contacted at