The “European Starlink” called IRIS² will be based in Prague, writes Hospodářské noviny. It plans to send 170 satellites, starting next year.
The Czech Republic will thus expand its activities in this area, as the EUSPA space agency already operates in the capital.
The multi-orbital constellation, IRIS² (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection and Security by Satellite), is projected to be operational in 2024 and will be focused on providing secure satellite communications to EU governmental users.
“IRIS² establishes space as a vector of our European autonomy, a vector of connectivity and resilience. It heightens Europe’s role as a true space power”, Internal Market Commissioner and the real driver of the initiative, Thierry Breton, said.
Allowing the private sector to facilitate the rollout of high-speed broadband to “dead zones” that currently lack connectivity is also listed as a critical goal of the project.
“IRIS² will provide connectivity to the whole of Europe”, said Breton, “including areas that do not currently benefit from broadband Internet, as well as to the whole of Africa, using the constellation’s North-South orbits.”
The system is also set to contribute to the EU’s broader goal of heightened strategic autonomy, outlined as a key motivation at the project’s announcement earlier this year.
Renew Europe MEP Christophe Grudler (Mouvement Démocrate, France), Rapporteur on the EU secure connectivity program, declared:
« With the war, Ukraine needed satellite telecommunications, but the EU didn’t have something to offer. Ukraine should not have to rely on the whims of Elon Musk to defend their people. With IRIS², the EU will have its own telecommunication constellation, able to offer secure communications to European governments and allies.
I’m proud that this constellation will also set a worldwide example in terms of sustainability, as we requested. Now it is time to build these new European satellites, and prepare them for launch!».