Acknowledging the changing nature of the space ecosystem, the European Commission tabled a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council establishing the Union Secure Connectivity Programme for the period 2023-2027. On Thursday the 17th after nine months of negotiations–a record time in EU policy-making history–the co-legislators reached an agreement on this new critical infrastructure for the EU.
This multi-orbital constellation will combine the benefits offered by Low Earth (LEO), Geostationary (GEO), and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites. It is set to provide secure communication services to the EU and its Member States as well as broadband connectivity for European citizens, private companies and governmental authorities. This new component of the EU Space Programme will put an end to dead zones in Europe as well as the whole of Africa using the constellation's North-South orbits through a resilient and ultra-secure space and ground-based system. It may include the development and launch of up to 170 LEO satellites between 2025 and 2027.
Here's what we can expect from this new flagship programme:
1. Cutting-edge EU communications services: By developing and operating a multi-orbital connectivity infrastructure the Union will be able to continuously adapt to the evolving user needs and develop new tailor-made applications and services. Fusing MEO and LEO satellite capabilities allows for solutions that vary in coverage, throughput and latency.
2. Resilience against cyberthreats: IRIS2 will integrate the space and related ground segment of the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure to enable secure transmission of cryptographic keys.
3. Synergies with other EU Space Programme components: Complementing Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS the system will also open more opportunities for synergies between already existing components of the EU Space Programme. For instance, the synergies between Earth Observation, SatNav and SatCom can be useful among others for addressing maritime emergencies and supporting natural disasters management.
4. New disruptive technologies: Our continent is gifted with a satellite communications industry that has the capacity to make the necessary technological leap and bring Europe to the forefront. New Space actors are able to think outside the box and create new services that can benefit users.
5. High-speed broadband everywhere: With the addition of the Secure Connectivity Programme, the European Union is ramping up digitisation of European society and its economy while looking to make space data more accessible and scalable to all interested entities. The combination of MEO and LEO capabilities will enable the provision seamless internet connectivity throughout the Union, removing communication dead zones and increasing cohesion across Member State territories.
The EU Agency for the Space Programme is already actively involved in building secure satellite communication infrastructure for Europe through the coordination of the first phase of GOVSATCOM on which IRIS2 will be based.
And EUSPA will continue to contribute to the Programme. Certain tasks linked to the operational management of the governmental infrastructure of the Programme, provision of governmental services, through the GOVSATCOM hub and the coordination of user-related aspects of these services will therefore be entrusted to the Agency. The Security Accreditation Board established within the Agency, where Members States take accreditation decisions, shall become the IRIS2 security accreditation authority. It will enlarge SAB areas of responsibilities currently covering today all components of the EU space programme, providing security assurance to the users with regards to IRIS2 service and infrastructure.
Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link back to the EUSPA website (http://www.euspa.europa.eu).