Meeting in Toulouse, Wednesday 16 February, within the framework of the European summit on space, the European Union defended its intention to build a constellation of satellites to defend its independence with China or the United States.
The European Commission has approved the project envisioned by Thierry Breton for a European constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit to provide dedicated very high speed Internet and commercial communications coverage at EU scale. EU and Africa.
A program of 6 billion euros is in the pipeline with European groups such as Airbus, Eutelstat or SES. The challenge is to launch before the orbits and frequencies become too crowded by the private networks of Starlink (SpaceX) and Kuiper (Blue Origin) that are starting to be marketed everywhere.
Europe is falling behind
But does Europe have the means to resist the billions of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos? That is the real question for the coming years. Europe is realizing that the space race has been privatized by billionaires and we are falling behind.
Rocket fuel is not hydrazine (a hydrogen-based mixture). no, Major fuel dollars. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos injects 1 billion into his company Blue Origin every year. For his part, Elon Musk has revolutionized the economic model of space missions with his Falcon X rocket capable of returning to Earth to make new journeys. The revolution behind which the Ariane rocket still runs.
Beyond space tourism, America’s tycoons are looking to put the next space revolution into orbit. What is at stake are communications satellites and connected objects that are attacking Earth.
In the next few years, we will be communicating at the speed of light thanks to 5G. We will autonomously pilot drones, cars and trains. We are also going to do mass telemedicine thanks to the Internet powered by communication satellites in space.
Prevent the space from becoming a Wild West
If Europe allows American billionaires to send their satellites, all our devices will rely on American or Chinese technology. This is an industrial problem for Europe and France in particular. The aerospace industry employs 40,000 people in Europe, including 16,000 in France.
Elon Musk plans to launch 42,000 mini-satellites Communication in coming years. Jeff Bezos is over 3,000. Same for China. Satellites have become a disposable and low-cost commodity. At one time, a communications satellite cost $100 million and lasted 15 years before disappearing into infinity. Now they are the size of a fridge, cost thousands of dollars and last 5 years.
One of the missions Europe has set itselfInvent a code of space roads. Because there is a risk of contamination with all these satellites, there is also the risk of collision and therefore loss of communication or debris falling to Earth.
The states have not yet given up against the billionaires in conquering space. Now we need Private companies are involved While maintaining a European choice with state control. This is exactly what the Americans, Russians or Chinese are doing. It takes a lot of money and technical support from startups. We can rely on a Breton pole as far as we are concerned.
But we’re no longer in 1983, during the Cold War, when Reagan launched his Space Defense Shield program (which we called Star Wars).
Nevertheless: space must be regulated by states to prevent it from becoming a wild west