ESA title

Future Internet Kick-Start

  • Activity Kick-start Activity
  • Opening date 20-11-2019
  • Closing date 14-01-2020

Please note that the opening and closing dates have changed for this call.


The Internet, created to provide resilient and interoperable communication across the globe, has evolved to transport today an immensurable amount of data and this continuing evolution will greatly impact many areas from industry to health care provision, to traffic management and intelligent logistics. 

During the last decade, the following trends have emerged as part of what we call “Future Internet”: the Tactile Internet, the Physical Internet, the Internet of people and Internet of Free Speech. Applications using these technologies are growing at a fast pace and spreading through a large variety of sectors and industries. The implications to society and applications for specific industries – including banking and finance, connected driving, utilities, transport, media and creative industry – are limitless. 

The Future Internet services requires the use of innovative ways of combining geo-referenced data with satellite derived data as open data, businesses data and volunteered data. Satellite communications and 5G networks underpin these applications providing ubiquitous connectivity and data relay capability. Exploitation of space-based assets data opens therefore new opportunities to develop applications related to the “Future Internet”.


Tactile Internet (TI). The envisioned purpose of the tactile internet is to enable the delivery of real-time control and physical (haptic) experiences remotely, that means  to provide a medium for remote physical interaction in real time with exchange of closed-loop information between virtual and/or real objects, i.e. humans, machines, and processes by enabling haptic interaction with visual feedback. At the application level, automation, robotics, telepresence, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) all play a role. In this way, the Tactile Internet should be able to simultaneously accommodate applications, such as manufacturing, e-health, training, education, road traffic, gaming and others.

Physical Internet (PI). It represents an innovation in logistics which is based on the working principles of the digital Internet. An internet-like network for goods means no data is encapsulated in data packets, but goods are encapsulated in PI-containers. Furthermore, PI-containers are routed through the network via PI-hubs, like data packets are routed through the internet by routers. Most candidate PI architectures highlight the necessity of real-time continuous communication and positioning of the PI-containers. At sea or in zones not covered with cellular networks, the use Satellite Communications is a must to accommodate for ubiquitous communication requirements. The same goes for satellite navigation in order to always locate the PI-container along its path. Applications of the PI could be discovered in the logistics sectors that have most to gain from the PI capabilities, as for example the secure transport of medical goods (drugs, blood samples,..) and the delivery of fresh food requiring timely delivery and monitoring of integrity of the goods.

Internet of People (IoP). In the Internet of people, users’ personal mobile devices will assume a special role as the main interface connecting people to the Internet. As they will be the “gateways” through which the users access the internet, they become the proxies of their human users in the cyber world. The users’ personal devices are not anymore passive generators and consumers of data, but they play an active role, either through local decisions, or through collaborative decisions with other devices with which they interact by incorporating models of their human users’ behavior. Stretching this vision further, IoP could embrace even a tighter integration between the Internet and humans, allowing humans themselves to contribute (cognitive) resources to the Internet functions. In IoP, humans can also be “used” as network nodes. Applications of IoP could be discovered in creative industries, personal services and others.

Internet for All People. The benefits of the Internet are not accessible to everyone. In particular, one fundamental human right, the right to speech (Freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is denied to many world citizens due to a lack of economic means to purchase or contract the communication means or censorship of the information to be transmitted or retrieved by authorities. Satellite Communications, and in particular upcoming satellite constellations, have the strongest potential to deliver the Internet for All People. Not just for the ones who can afford it or the ones authorized by their institutions, but for all. The potential market is large and includes countless NGOs operating abroad, poor communities and individuals facing critical or life-threatening situations.


  • 27 September 2019, 15:00 CEST
  • 14 October 2019, 15:00 CEST


New technologies like augmented reality, big data analytics and image-recognition algorithms in combination with input data collection from satellites and integration of space technologies, offers a wide range of opportunities for new services.


Satellite navigation (GNSS) is instrumental in order to provide geo-tagging services and tracking of the robots in case of Tactile Internet, to locate the PI-container along its path for the Physical Internet and for any crowd sourcing applications to locate people and devices. In some use cases, the orientation (pitch, roll, yaw) of an object as a robot becomes important. For example, in the case of the cameras, it could be important to know in which direction a camera is pointing and which area the camera is covering. Or, in the case of pictures taken with smartphones, when the orientations and positions of photos are stored, the positions of objects or people in that photo can be determined integrating sensors, as gyroscopes, measurements with multiple GNSS data.


Satellite communications offer a unique alternative to the transmission of data through the terrestrial internet with the coordinating centre to and from remote locations where there is no terrestrial network or to cope with a large demand for bandwidth, e.g. for live streaming of images. Used as a primary communication means or as back-up to terrestrial networks, Satcom can therefore enhance communication network robustness and communication resilience. It also provides means for Tactile Internet applications to connect to remote areas outside of terrestrial coverage areas and to act as back up for terrestrial network failure. 


Earth Observation data can be used in combination with measurements of  in-situ sensors (i.e. in direct contact with an object or medium, e.g. a water temperature sensor in water) or remotely (i.e. in indirect contact with an object or medium, observing or interacting with an object or medium indirectly either actively or passively, e.g. a surveillance camera detecting cars’ number plates from a distance) to provide important information about events. People can also observe the environment and can publish their observations through applications (e.g. social media applications) that run on fixed or mobile devices, e.g. smartphones and this valuable information can be integrated with the satellite data to increase the understanding of the environment. For example, weather prediction from EO data can be used to initiate precautionary actions if a severe rainfall in a certain area is predicted. Remote sensing techniques could also very useful to identify targets, as areas of interest. 


5G systems, the next step in the evolution of fixed and mobile communication, could have a central role in the future Internet applications. 5G networks, which will integrate terrestrial and satellite connectivity means will permit meeting a set of requirements (i.e. high data-rate, wide coverage, high throughput, high reliability) which are fundamental for relying data with ultra-low latency, high availability and in a secure manner in remote locations. It is expected that sensor networks and IoT technologies will rely massively on the new capabilities offered by 5G networks.


Kick-start Activities elaborate the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services that exploit one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Human Space Flight Technology). This call for Kick-start Activities is dedicated to the theme "Future Internet", which means that the call is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled internet applications and services.   


1. Register by completing the online questionnaire on ESA-STAR Registration (this provides for the minimum ‘light registration’)

2. Download the official tender documentation (Invitation to Tender) via EMITS Reference AO10130 from November 20th 2019.

3. Write your proposal and obtain a Letter of Support from your National Delegation, if needed (see Authorisation of Funding section below).

4. Submit your proposal via ESA-STAR Tendering by January 14th 2020 13:00hr CET.


Currently, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the United Kingdom have pre-approved funding for this Kick-start activity. Applications from any other Member State will require a letter of approval from their National Delegation.