Brussels promotes the launch of a new constellation of European satellites

The European Union wants to strengthen its presence in space by launching a new constellation of satellites.

The European Commissioner in charge of Space Policy, Thierry Breton, has presented the new project in the framework of the European Space Conference in Brussels. Its objective: to improve connectivity and put it at the service of citizens.

“These constellations will be in a low orbit, so they will essentially be used for connectivity,” explains Stéphane Israël, President of Arianespace. And he cites some examples: in isolated territories, where fiber is too expensive, or for mobility situations either on a plane or on a ship. And he adds that in the future it could also serve for the interconnection of objects with the internet or autonomous cars.

The program plans to send more than 600 satellites and put them in low orbit, that is, at a distance of between 500 and 1,000 km from Earth. And the aeronautical sector hopes to be able to launch the first devices before 2027, which would mean providing the first services to citizens before the end of the decade.

The project is interesting on a technological and economic level, but also political, as it reinforces the strategic independence of the EU.

“These communications could be used for security or defense,” says Israël. “In so-called theaters of operations, communications are generally not easy, either because a catastrophe has occurred or because there is a conflict situation. And this constellation could provide secure communications. It is an example of sovereignty.” And he also cites cloud computing as an example, since “it will offer storage and data exchange solutions that will be strictly European.”

The multi-annual budget of the European Union has foreseen more than 13,000 million euros for space policy. This is the largest effort ever made by the European Union in this area.

The Commission urges those responsible to take risks and also to anticipate them, so that the European Union consolidates itself as a space power.

“Europe has to understand that a failure is not the end of the story. A failure is just a piece of information to learn and move towards the future,” says Jan Wörner, director of the European Space Agency (ESA). “To be at the forefront, you don’t have to copy, you have to invest in new things. You have to allow each failure to become the magic door to success.”

The project is in an incipient phase, but Commissioner Breton is determined to launch it before the end of the year.