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Defence Industry and Space

In-Orbit Demonstration / In-Orbit Validation

About In-Orbit Demonstration and Validation (IOD/IOV) services

European Flight Ticket Initiative

The European Commission and the European Space Agency are jointly preparing a Flight Ticket Initiative, to be operational end 2023. The objectives of the Flight Ticket Initiative are to:

  • Stimulate new European launchers systems and solutions through open competition for the procurement of launch services;
  • Provide regular opportunities of affordable and responsive launch services for European “ready to fly” IOD/IOV satellites;
  • Provide regular opportunities of affordable and responsive launch services for other EU IOD/IOV missions and possibly EU institutional missions.

The flight ticket initiative for IOD/IOV missions will use exclusively European manufactured launchers co-funded through the EU Horizon Europe programme and the ESA Boost! programme.


Main steps, from experiment selection to flight

March 2023 – March 2026: Parallel call for Expression of Interest to pre-select

  • IOD/IOV Experiments needing aggregation;
  • Ready to Fly IOD/IOV satellites.

The calls are open until 15th March 2026 with cut-off dates on:

  • May 31st 2023, 18:00 (CET); - Closed
  • March 15th 2024, 18:00 (CET);
  • September 2nd 2024, 18:00 (CET);
  • March 15th 2025, 18:00 (CET);
  • September 1st 2025, 18:00 (CET);
  • March 15th 2026, 18:00 (CET).
  1. 2023 – 2026
    Procurement actions are entrusted to ESA.

    All tender actions will be published on the ESA-Star portal and reference to the actions is reported on the European Commission website.

    • Carrier procurement for aggregation and operation services, including rideshare opportunities;
    • Launch services through the COM/ESA Flight Ticket Initiative.
  2. 2024 - 2026
    IOD/IOV Experiment delivery for aggregation on spacecraft;
  3. 2024 – 2027
    Launch and operations


The first call for expressing interest in IOD/ IOV experiments was kicked-off in April 2018 under Horizon 2020 R&I Programme. It attracted 50+ proposals from various European entities, from SMEs to large companies, universities and research organisations. Successful applications relate to technology innovation for EO, PNT, SatCom and space science.

In September 2020, the first selected IOD/IOV experiment, UPMSat-2, was successfully launched on board the Vega SSMS. The ∑yndeo-1 and ∑yndeo-2 cubesat missions implemented by ISISpace Group (NL), aggregating 7 IOD/IOV experiments, together with the ESTCube-2 and ANSER satellites will be launched in the upcoming Vega flights. The IOD/IOV smallsat missions are under preparations and will be launched in the upcoming years.

In spring 2022, a new call for expression of interest was published, kicking off the next phase of IOD/IOV services under the Horizon Europe R&I Programme. This time again, 50+ applications were received from the space community in various domains, including Earth Observation, Positioning, Navigation and Timing, Space Traffic Management, Telecommunications, etc.

Successful applications relate to technology innovation for EO, PNT, SSA, SatCom and space science. IOD/IOV missions are under preparation. Launch services for both missions and ready to fly satellites are expected in the upcoming years.