ESA and Inmarsat signed a partnership agreement on development of a satellite-based aircraft flight-tracking system to improve commercial air-traffic management. ESA and Inmarsat committed a combined 15 million euros ($19 million) to the Iris Precursor project, which is part of a larger European Union program called Single European Skies Air Traffic Management Research, or SESAR.
Inmarsat and the other companies in the 16-company consortium set up for the Iris Precursor project are contributing 4 million euros of the total. The British government is taking a 50 percent stake, with its 7.4-million-euro contribution being spent through the 20-nation ESA’s Artes telecommunications research program. The remaining 3.6 million euros is being paid by Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal, although through contributions to ESA’s Artes.