¶EU Parliament agrees to IRIS2. Last week, the EU Parliament funded the development of a new communications constellation, the Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection & Security by Satellites (IRIS2 or sometimes IRISS), which will operate alongside its existing Galileo (GNSS), EGNOS (GNSS overlay), and Copernicus (EO) constellations (intro video). The new constellation will consist of up to 170 satellites deployed to LEO, MEO, and GEO and will integrate with existing communications assets. IRIS2 will provide high-security, high-reliability communications based on the EU’s nascent GOVSATCOM and EuroQCI quantum communications initiatives. While the constellation will have some amount of worldwide coverage, it will prioritize complete coverage of all of Europe and Africa with high-speed broadband—this coverage is touted as helping to combat the digital divide, but the only end users listed are government, defense, and commercial business. The EU will initially fund €2.4B for the program, with ESA adding €685M from its own budget. The balance of the €6.4B plan is supposed to be funded by the private sector, with European new space startups being allocated 30% of the constellation’s contract value. IRIS2 is unabashedly a play to combat the growing dominance of Starlink and to provide European sovereign communications infrastructure. The stated timeline of initial service in 2025 (with full rollout by 2027) seems optimistic, given that large constellations to date have taken significantly longer from announcement to initial service, and the preferred Ariane 6 launch vehicle is behind schedule and nearly fully booked with Kuiper launches.