ESA has Partnered With Spire Global to Build an Advanced Space-Based Aviation Tracking System

By Sophia Francise

July 25, 2023

The European Space Agency (ESA) has struck a partnership with Spire Global to build a system that will use satellites to keep an independent eye on airborne planes. 

The system, referred to as Eurialo, is an advanced civilian aviation surveillance system that uses a constellation of satellites to monitor flights globally in real time.

Spire Global, a company that provides space-based data, analytics, and space services, will design and build the in-orbit technology demonstrator for the system.

The system will determine the exact position of a plane by geolocating its radio frequency signals.

In contrast to current surveillance systems, which frequently rely on self-reported positions of aircraft received from the Global Navigation Satellite System, this will offer an accurate assessment of the plane’s location.

The project aims to provide reliable, resilient surveillance for European communication, navigation, and surveillance infrastructure, aligning with the European air traffic management master plan for safe, sustainable, and efficient air travel.1

The Eurialo system is expected to offer advanced civilian aircraft surveillance, enabling real-time tracking from take-off to landing. 

Spire will develop a mission and preliminary system design for an operational satellite constellation, followed by a demonstrator mission to demonstrate service performance and critical technologies.

“Space-based aircraft tracking and geolocation is the future of air traffic management to ensure safe, secure, and sustainable air travel at a global scale. We are honored to be selected by ESA to lead the development of this first-of-its-kind aviation surveillance system demonstrator, leveraging our more than 500 years of flight heritage operating satellites in space and expertise in radio frequency technology,” said the Chief Executive Officer at Spire Global, Peter Platzer

The company will lead a consortium with the European Satellite Services Provider, providing aviation communication, navigation, and surveillance services.

The primary source of funding for the Eurialo project is the German Space Agency, DLR.

Spire Global will increase its international footprint to nine offices across six nations by opening a location in Munich through its recently founded German subsidiary.



  1. European Space Agency, ‘Advanced aircraft tracking will come live from space’, 25 July 2023,[]