After falling behind Elon Musk’s Starlink, the EU’s satellite dream suffered a setback.
The European Union’s low-earth-orbit satellite project has lagged behind Elon Musk’s Starlink space internet plan.
Mr Musk’s Starlink, which now has 1,800 satellites in space, is ahead of Brussels’ project. The EU, according to Shagun Sachdeva, founder of space consultancy Kosmic Apple, “cannot fulfill Starlink or even OneWeb’s timing.” The benefits of not being first to market are that they can learn and take advantage of economies of scale, which will lower prices.” Airbus, Arianespace, Eutelsat, Hispasat, OHB, Orange, SES, Telespazio, and Thales Alenia Space are among the consortium members involved in the EU space internet scheme.
The EU is well aware that it is losing ground in the race to provide the first widely utilized low-earth-orbit internet access.
“They are staring with envy at Starlink, OneWeb, and the Chinese projects,” a satellite industry insider told the Sunday Telegraph. European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said his “objective is to go fast” to build a European counterpart to Starlink.
“The European Commission drove an EU-wide alliance to build Galileo,” said Rupert Pearce, former CEO of satellite firm Inmarsat and venture partner at Columbia Capital.
Mr Pearce noted that Mr Breton must also “address the concern that low-earth orbit networks are as yet unproven and maybe a technology in quest of a compelling commercial case” by forming a similar alliance to construct a “European Starlink.”
A pilot project involving aerospace company Airbus, rocket business Arianespace, telecoms provider Orange, and satellite operators SES and Eutelsat has received an initial €7 million from the EU.
The budget for Mr. Breton’s space project, on the other hand, will require the agreement of all 28 EU member states.
Over the next five years, the EU has already set aside €13.2 billion for its space budget.
The bloc’s space internet initiative, on the other hand, will be in addition to this.
France, which would want EU investment to be focused towards its own companies such as Airbus, Thales, and Orange, is likely to support the plan.
China has also proposed the creation of a space-based internet.
Satellite internet has been added to Beijing’s list of infrastructure projects.
Beijing’s Politburo is working on plans for two low-earth-orbit constellations with a total of 13,000 satellites.