“Iris is a big step for our resilience and a giant leap for our technological sovereignty,” Industry and Space Commissioner Thierry Breton said on Thursday. But what is Iris? Well it is one constellation of satellites “made in the European Union” aims to secure the Internet and its communications “everywhere” in its territory.
The cost of the project, which augments Galileo, the satellite positioning system, and Copernicus, the Earth observation system, has been estimated at €6 billion. Agreement was reached after nine months of negotiations between the European Parliament and Member States on the allocation. This is made up of 2.4 billion euros from the EU budget, to which must be added 750 million euros from the European Space Agency. The private sector must carry out the financing.
Iris should be fully operational in 2027
Iris was supposed to enable Member States to provide secure connections, especially for military use, and the internet “everywhere, including in the EU’s most remote regions and in Africa”. Above all, it must make it possible to “maintain it in the event of a breakdown of the terrestrial infrastructures”. “The Russian war against Ukraine has shown our need to become more autonomous, emphasized the negotiator of the group of the European People’s Party (pro-European right) Massimiliano Salini. However, it is regrettable that money is taken from important existing programs such as Horizon Europe. »
The first services should be provided at the end of 2024 and Iris should be fully operational in 2027, emphasized the services of Thierry Breton.
The EU wants to secure its communication and not be surprised by the projects developed by the US and China. And Iris would have to have a few hundred satellites placed in several orbits, unlike Starlink, and they would have to be able to withstand cyber attacks. Finally, the EU wants to be able to monitor space traffic “from space” with this new constellation.