After Starlink, it’s up to Europe to offer a satellite internet offer

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In the week a large interministerial meeting will be held in Paris on the subject of space. Withdrawn in the race for the Moon, Europe must decide its policy for the years to come. Upstream of this great summit, the European authorities have already agreed, on November 17, on the creation of a constellation of satellites wishing to compete with Starlink.

With Iris2, Europe wants to ensure independence from American offers. For Thierry Breton, European Commissioner, this news is a “big step for our resilience and a giant leap for our technological sovereignty”. Using Neil Armstrong’s wording, the politician gives the measure of such a decision for Europe.

3rd European network in orbit

The network should be active in the middle of 2024 according to the plans of the various European authorities. The EU has already orbited two constellations, Galileo and Copernicus, which provide position tracking (GPS) and continuous observation of the Earth.

In order to bring a new constellation into orbit, the EU signed a check for 2.4 billion euros. In addition to this investment, the ESA and companies will finalize the budget, reaching 6 billion euros. As the EU recalled when adopting this project, the idea of ​​this constellation is above all to offer a secure and sovereign connection to defense operators and government services.

A state-of-the-art network

Europe plans that in a second step, private companies will be able to offer a similar offer to ordinary citizens using the Iris2 network. A constellation which is not yet out of the ground today and which intends to use the latest technologies at its disposal.

Among the projects mentioned, some voices are already mentioning the arrival of EuroQCI, a quantum communication infrastructure. The development of a communications constellation by Europe is crucial for the old continent. Today, the Ariane group and the Airbus company are in charge of evaluating the feasibility of such a project.

Competitors in America, but also in China and Russia

If Starlink is the best known solution today, China and Russia are also working on putting a large constellation into orbit. For astronomers, the addition of satellites and this need for “sovereignty” risks posing problems for carrying out astronomical observations.

Several scientists have protested against the implementation of such projects, fearing that the Earth will suffer from Kessler syndrome, a chain of accidents in orbit that locks the planet on itself with a saturated and impassable orbit.

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