Currently under development, IRIDE is a satellite constellation for Earth observation that was born as an initiative of the Italian government, with the support of the resources of the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). IRIDE will be completed by 2026 under the management of the European Space Agency (ESA), with the support of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

Designed as a “constellation of constellations”, IRIDE is made up of several sub-constellations of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), known as the Upstream Segment, the operational infrastructure on the ground (Downstream Segment) and the services for the Italian Public Administration (Service Segment).

More in detail, the IRIDE project includes the development and launch (and the supply of related services) of satellites with different imaging technologies, such as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors, optical sensors with high and medium resolution or sensors with various frequency ranges, from panchromatic, multispectral, hyperspectral to infrared bands.

In addition to providing services to the Italian Public Administration, the aim of IRIDE is also to support the Civil Protection and other administrations in fighting hydrogeological instability and fires, protecting coastlines and monitoring critical infrastructures, air quality and weather conditions.

IRIDE will also provide analytical data for the development of commercial applications by start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and industries in the sector.

The role of Telespazio and e-GEOS

Because of its experience, Telespazio has a key role in the development of Earth-based systems and in the space operations of IRIDE; through e-GEOS, a joint venture with ASI, it also has a key role in the supply of services.

Specifically, Telespazio is the leader of the group of Italian companies that will develop the Flight Operations Segment (FOS) for satellites based on the PLATiNO platform (developed by SITAEL and equipped with Leonardo’s hyperspectral radar sensor) and on the NIMBUS platform of Thales Alenia Space, equipped with optical and SAR sensors.

The FOS is one of the core elements of the Earth segment and will provide functions such as command and control, orbit determination and collision avoidance, acquisition of data on useful loads, monitoring and planning operations.

Additionally, Telespazio is part of the industrial team led by OHB Italia, which is tasked with developing and delivering the first batch of 12 satellites (and the related FOS) for the Multispectral High Resolution imaging mission, scheduled for launch in 2025.

e-GEOS will create IRIDE’s digital marketplace (the infrastructure for access to data and services) that will guarantee a single, reliable and cyber-protected access point for institutional bodies and commercial customers, with the aim of promoting the integration of geoinformation services into daily activities. The new platform will integrate advanced technologies with open standards, and will be interoperable with other systems for the delivery, processing and analysis of Earth observation data.

Furthermore, e-GEOS will offer IRIDE its experience and services in the sector of processing, management and analysis of satellite big data, as well as participating in projects for modelling services based on the concept of Earth’s digital twin.

Lastly, e-GEOS will contribute to the “Matera Space Centre Lab”, which includes the creation, in the ASI Centre in Matera, of a lab aimed at developing innovative skills in the field of satellite image analysis.