White smoke came out around 5pm. After two and a half hours of chatter, a reasonable duration for “trilogues” of this type, the representatives of the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament agreed on Thursday, November 17, the launch of the future European constellation of connectivity, a project started in 2021 by Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. “A big step for our resilience, and a giant leap for our technological sovereignty”, rejoiced the French commissioner, responsible for space and defense, a few minutes after the agreement.
Europe, after 9 months of negotiations (record speed), please meet…
Your future satellite constellation is safe! 🇧🇷
A big step for our resilience – and a giant leap for our technological sovereignty. pic.twitter.com/3FMOLm5sjG
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) November 17, 2022
The program, named Iris2, is ambitious: after Galileo (satellite positioning) and Copernicus (Earth observation), the aim is to provide Europe with a third major space infrastructure. In this case, a constellation of satellites in low orbit dedicated to secure connectivity. The program is valued at €6 billion, of which €2.4 billion comes from EU funds. The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to provide 750 million euros, a contribution that should be validated during the ESA ministerial conference on 20 and 21 November. The rest will have to be provided by the Member States and industrial consortia or selected consortia.
Iris2 has several purposes. Equipped with post-quantum encryption technologies, it should allow