Telecoms companies form consortium for ESA’s connectivity satellite

5 May 2023

Image: © NicoElNino/

Telecoms players such as Orange and Deutsche Telekom are working with aerospace companies to make the IRIS2 satellite a reality.

Following the EU’s call for industry to assist with its planned satellite constellation, several companies operating in the space and telecoms sector have formed a consortium partnership in response.

The move comes following European Commission’s open call last month for industry players to submit proposals for a contract to implement IRIS2 (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite).

The satellite constellation is a public-private project that the EU is hoping will improve its ability to provide broadband as well as connectivity services related to security and surveillance. The EU is aiming to have IRIS2 fully operational in 2027.

The open consortium will be led by Airbus Defence and Space, Eutelsat, Hispasat, SES and Thales Alenia Space. Deutsche Telekom, OHB, Orange, Hisdesat, Telespazio and Thales are also all signed up to play a key role in the project.

These partners will work on building up a team of space and telecoms experts across each company. They will also encourage other smaller start-ups and SMEs in Europe to get involved in the effort to bring IRIS2 into fruition.

Overall, the consortium wants to make Europe more competitive when it comes to space-tech. The EU first announced its intention to implement IRIS2 in 2022. It promised to provide the project with funding to the tune of €6bn at the time.

As well as working on the IRIS2 project, the EU has other satellite programmes in the works. Earlier this year, it signed a deal with Japan whereby the country will provide the EU’s Copernicus satellite programme with data from its non-commercial Earth observation satellites.

Copernicus is the earth observation element of the EU’s multibillion-dollar space programme. Pitched by the EU as the world’s first provider of ‘big space data’, Copernicus supports the management of the environment, helps to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis and ensures safety and civil security across Europe.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.