Europe strengthens its space defense with the Bodyguard satellite

European Defense Bodyguard

The European Defense Fund is financing the Bodyguard satellite to counter orbital threats, reinforcing Europe’s independence and space superiority.

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The European Defense Fund (EDF) has allocated nearly 6.5 million euros to develop the Bodyguard satellite, capable of tracking and neutralizing orbital threats. This project, involving companies from eight EU countries and coordinated by Agenium Space in France, aims to reinforce Europe’s independence and superiority in space. With advanced capabilities such as the use of lasers or robots to disable enemy satellites, Bodyguard represents a proactive response to the threats posed by anti-satellite weapons developed by Russia and China.

The strategic objective of the bodyguard satellite

The Bodyguard project, financed by the European Defense Fund (EDF), aims to reinforce Europe’s independence and superiority in space. By allocating almost 6.5 million euros (around 7 million dollars) to this project, the EDF is responding to growing concerns about the development of anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) by Russia and China. The Bodyguard satellite will be capable of tracking threatening enemy satellites and disabling or even destroying them.

This initiative is part of a wider strategy to ensure the security of European space assets. Satellites are crucial to a wide range of applications, from communications and navigation to environmental monitoring. The ability to protect these assets against potential attacks is essential to maintaining stability and security in space.

European consortium and project coordination

The Bodyguard project is led by a consortium of companies from eight European Union countries, with coordination provided by Agenium Space, based in Toulouse, France. Participating countries include Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden.

The consortium comprises two Belgian companies, one Danish, three French, two Finnish, one Greek, one Latvian, one Luxembourgish and one Swedish. This international collaboration reflects Europe’s commitment to developing cutting-edge space capabilities, while strengthening ties between member nations.

The 36-month project aims to develop an autonomous satellite capable of detecting and neutralizing orbital threats using robots or lasers. However, the EDF data sheet does not specify the planned orbit for the Bodyguard satellite.

European Defense Bodyguard

Bodyguard satellite technology and capabilities

The Bodyguard satellite is designed to detect the weak points of nearby threatening satellites and neutralize them using advanced technologies such as robots or lasers. This ability to act autonomously and precisely is crucial to countering the threats posed by ASATs.

ASAT satellites developed by Russia and China can target and destroy vital satellites in orbit. In response, Bodyguard will offer a proactive defense, capable of intervening before enemy satellites cause damage. This approach strengthens Europe’s position as a major player in space defense.

A similar example is the French YODA (Yeux en Orbite pour un Démonstrateur Agile) project, announced by former French Defense Minister Florence Parly in 2019. This project involves two nano-satellites, each weighing between 10 and 20 kilograms, designed to monitor Russian and Chinese satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO). Initially scheduled for 2023, the launch of YODA is now envisaged for 2025, due to delays in the development of the Ariane 6 rocket.

Implications and consequences of the bodyguard project

The development of Bodyguard has major implications for European space security. By strengthening defense capabilities against orbital threats, Europe can protect its critical space assets and maintain its supremacy in space. Moreover, this project demonstrates Europe’s willingness to take proactive measures to meet the challenges posed by ASATs.

However, the development of such defense capabilities could also provoke geopolitical tensions. Initiatives to develop defensive space weapons could be perceived by other nations as an escalation, leading to an arms race in space. It is therefore crucial to maintain a balance between the development of these technologies and diplomatic efforts to establish international norms of behavior in space.

Future prospects and ongoing development

In addition to Bodyguard, the EDF has also funded other projects aimed at strengthening European space security. For example, the NAUCRATES project, funded to the tune of 4 million euros (plus 1 million euros from national funds), aims to develop a surveillance microsatellite for geostationary orbit. This satellite, designed to be stealthy and capable of taking high-resolution images of other objects in GEO, is an essential complement to Bodyguard.

These initiatives demonstrate Europe’s commitment to developing a robust and resilient space infrastructure. As ASAT technologies continue to advance, projects like Bodyguard and NAUCRATES are essential to ensure that Europe can protect its space interests and maintain its strategic position in the global space arena.

The Bodyguard project represents a significant step forward in Europe’s space defense capabilities. By developing a satellite capable of detecting and neutralizing orbital threats, Europe is positioning itself to respond effectively to the challenges posed by ASATs. This initiative, backed by international collaboration and substantial funding, is a crucial step towards ensuring Europe’s security and superiority in space.

War Wings Daily is an independant magazine.