Europe seeks space for new data centers

A European study should investigate the feasibility of data centers in space.

A third Belgian astronaut wasn’t the only news about the universe this week. Europe not only wants to send new people into space, but also new facilities. The project is called ASCEND. Not only English for ‘take off’, but also the acronym (or more or less) ‘Advanced Space Cloud for European Net zero emission and Data sovereignty’.


Global online activity is increasing every day. Think about how more and more devices are becoming “smart”, the recent expansion of online shopping Or just social media. All of this data needs to be processed. And data centers literally and figuratively cost a lot of energy. In addition to the financial impact, there is also the environmental impact.

It’s also a fact that people don’t like having such a huge data center nearby. For example, there have recently been protest actions in various Dutch municipalities against the possible construction of it.

who and how

Therefore, the European Commission now the possibilities and possible advantages of such installations in space. For this, a feasibility study was commissioned from the French space company Thales Alenia Space. Also VITOthe Flemish Institute for Technological Research participates.

Especially in terms of energy, this would bring many long-term benefits. For example, the facilities could be constantly cooled using solar energy. With a real concern for the long term, because to make this project a reality, many rocket launches had to take place first. After all, this is something that will be bigger than the ISS space station.

Also aircraft manufacturer Airbus and aerospace company Airane Group (of which Airbus is a part) are on board. They look at the practical and technical implementation, but also the security of the whole company. For example, all space debris present must be taken into account. If something goes wrong, a technician cannot be sent just like that!

Maintenance would be done, among other things, by robots. Lasers, optical connection, are considered for ground connection.

Somewhere else

In the meantime, the rest of the world is of course not standing still. A new Japanese consortium for example, has plans for data processing in space via satellites. And there is the American Lonestar, which wants to build data centers on the moon. They are based in Florida and not Texas as their name suggests.

The European study will start next year and end in 2024. If the feasibility is confirmed, the project could start as early as 2030.

Read more: FCC introduces law to clean up space

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