EU lays out $6.8 billion satellite communication plan in space race

FILE PHOTO: A nighttime view of Europe using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite in seen in a NASA handout
FILE PHOTO: A nighttime view of Europe made possible by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) is seen in a global composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite in 2012 and released by NASA October 2, 2014 . REUTERS/NASA/Handout

February 15, 2022

By Foo Yun Chee

STRASBOURG (Reuters) – The European Commission on Tuesday set out a 6 billion-euro ($6.8 billion) satellite communications plan, part of a push to cut the European Union’s dependence on foreign companies and protect key communications services and surveillance data against any outside interference.

The move comes amid growing concerns over Russian and Chinese military advances in outer space and a surge in satellite launches.

Commercial operators such a Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its Starlink network that aims to launch tens of thousands of satellites to supply global space-based wifi have also contributed to a fast-growing satellite population and resulting debris.

“Our new connectivity infrastructure will deliver high-speed internet access, serve as a back-up to our current internet infrastructure, increase our resilience and cyber security, and provide connectivity to the whole of Europe and Africa,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton said in a statement.

The EU proposal aims to build and operate a space-based state-of-the-art connectivity system, help to counter cyber and electromagnetic threats and improve the resilience of EU telecommunication infrastructures

The 6 billion euro cost will be funded by a 2.4 billion euro contribution from the EU from 2022 until 2027, the EU budget, EU countries, the European Space Agency and private investments.

The EU aims to launch the programme next year.

($1 = 0.8808 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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