Advanced Space Cloud for
European Net zero Emission and
Data sovereignty

In brief

An EU-funded project

ASCEND is a feasibility study led by Thales Alenia Space, for the European Commission as part of Horizon Europe programs. Study objectives are to demonstrate the technical feasibility and the environmental benefits to deploy large capacity data centre in space. Space environment is offering high solar illumination position and cold space view, that would benefits to data centres application.

Space Data Centres are foreseen as a promising alternative to reduce environmental footprint and energy consumption of digital application on earth.

Space Data Centres reduce space data processing times, by offering processing capacity close space assets and therefore reducing communication delay. This is allowing to provide real-time information and to download to ground only relevant information.

Space Data Centres offer anywhere data access and are less exposed to natural disasters and usual direct attacks.

ASCEND preliminary conclusion drives to a paradigm change for space application with a hyper-structure of several thousands of tons deployed and hundreds of launch per year strategy.


The ambition of the ASCEND project is to demonstrate the feasibility of a space data centre while demonstrating the EU green ambition, zero CO2 emissions on earth and a virtuous life cycle. This will be demonstrated through specific and profitable use cases.

To achieve such ambitious objectives, a highly skilled consortium of both academic and industry partners was set up through the entire inverter value chain.

Scope & Purpose

The ASCEND feasibility study will cover the following objectives :

  • Confirm that the use of space can reduce the footprint of data centres
  • Conceive an “environmentally driven” space data system architecture
  • Define in-orbit services concepts for the operational deployment and maintenance of the space data centres infrastructure
  • Establish the space data centres’ cost and business case, contributing to a sustainable space infrastructure and in-space ecosystem
  • Define the implementation development program and associated technology roadmap for an operational system in 2030



With the aim of reducing the digital carbon footprint, there is a project to position data centers in space, in order to have low-carbon solar electricity and to avoid the energy necessary for cooling (assured by the vacuum of space). However, all parameters must be taken into account to ensure that there is a benefit for the climate. The analysis that Carbone 4 carried out in response to the request from the European Commission made it possible to determine that this benefit would be subject to a real feat on the part of the European space sector, in particular to succeed in offering the lowest carbon launcher of the world.

Let us also remember that such a project must not obscure a cardinal principle in the smooth running of the transition: that of sobriety. Also, this project will only be relevant if it aims to ensure an exchange of necessary and critical data for human societies, and not if it aims to transpose into space all current digital uses. Indeed, beyond the climate, it is the entire environmental and social footprint (water, air and biodiversity pollution, human cost generated by mining activity) of the space and digital sectors that we must question (and reduce!) through such a project.

Carbone 4

As we stand at the forefront of an unprecedented venture, I am filled with immense pride for HPE to be part of it. Our collaboration in designing and eventually developing the innovative Data Center in Space marks not just a milestone for our consortium but a giant leap for technological advancement. This state-of-the-art facility, gracefully orbiting in lower Earth orbit, will be more than an engineering marvel; it will be a testament to what we can achieve when we unite in pursuit of a bold vision.

This Data Center is not just a hub of unparalleled data processing, data security and storage capabilities; it is a beacon of hope, symbolizing our limitless potential. As we venture into this new era of space technology, we are not only expanding the frontiers of our industry but also paving the way for future generations to dream bigger and reach further.

Joel Toussaint, HPE Director European Institutions, NATO, Defence and Space