Capitalism in space? Despite negative assessments of the project by its own bureaucracy, the European Union has decided to move forward on a proposal to build its own broadband satellite constellation.
The board’s negative score was based on several factors, including a lack of “analytical coherence” about why the proposed constellation is the best solution to the problems it is intended to address about broadband access and secure communications, use of a “predetermined technical solution” that isn’t specified and a lack of a timetable. The board also raised concerns about the validity of the data the commission used to back the proposed constellation as well as climate impacts from deploying it.
According to E.U. rules, an impact assessment must receive a positive opinion from the Regulatory Scrutiny Board for it to proceed. If it receives a negative opinion twice, only the commission’s Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight, Maroš Šefčovič, can allow the initiative to proceed.
That was the case for the broadband constellation. “Because of the political importance of this Programme, the urgency of action and having the additional clarifications and evidence viewed as satisfactorily addressing the identified shortcomings and suggested specifications of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, the Commission – also in the light of the agreement by the Vice-President for Inter-Institutional Relations and Foresight – has considered it opportune to proceed with the Programme,” the legislative proposal stated.
Except for a commitment to spend $6.8 billion, at the moment the proposal includes few details, including the type and number of satellites, what frequency they would use, what orbits they would be in, and who would build and launch them.
Based on the typical time schedule for other recent European projects, do not expect this constellation to launch for at least another decade, at which time it will be obsolete.
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