European Multinational Satellite Programs

  • Alexander Kolovos
  • Kostas Pilaftsis
Reference work entry


Multilateral cooperation is an established approach for European countries to develop and acquire high-quality space systems, based on collective needs, pooling of resources, and cost sharing. This applies equally to the defense and security domain, where comprehensive earth observation competences are operationally required. In this context, the cooperation under MUSIS will be detailed as a characteristic paradigm. The acronym stands for “Multinational Space-based Imagery System” and represents the initiative of 7 + 1 defense ministers of European Union members (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Sweden in the joining) to produce surveillance, reconnaissance, and observation capabilities, as required in the time horizon of 2015–2030. MUSIS started out ambitiously as an idea for a European Earth Observation System for defense and security, with multinational-produced space components and a commonly defined and developed user ground segment. However, from conception to deployment, MUSIS has been proven a complicated endeavor and time-consuming process so far. MUSIS has received skepticism for not being able to evolve into a tangible space program yet, with finalized and validated framework for its operational deliverables, participation requirements, and resource allocation. The reasons are nested in the requirements for multinational coordination among its participants, the formalities of national and collective decision making, and the individual political, operational, and industrial imperatives at national level. MUSIS remains an open intergovernmental project with a certain political guidance, but the lack of legally binding programmatic provisions so far plus the ongoing financial crisis leaves room for ambiguity in participants’ intentions and further commitments regarding MUSIS. This chapter addresses the background upon which MUSIS is based, the satellite program description and its development, the space components architecture, and the MUSIS foreseen operation and reaches some conclusions regarding the program and its future prospects.


Imaging Capability Space Component Security Purpose Federate Activity Earth Observation System 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hellenic Air Force AcademyAthensGreece
  2. 2.Hellenic Air ForceAthensGreece

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