The British have just put some forty satellites into orbit. The objective is in particular to ensure their autonomy in terms of the Internet.
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From the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, in partnership with the European Arianespace, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched Monday, December 17, 36 new satellites of the British operator OneWeb. The aim is to deploy a constellation of satellites to provide high speed internet in the UK and around the world. This is the eighth launch of OneWeb this year. Ultimately, 650 small satellites of this kind will make up the British constellation.
It is a strategic war between Europe, the United States and China. The UK does not want to be outdone. Just one example: the American GPS – at the base a military system now applied to civilians, in our cars, on our smartphones – allows us today to locate ourselves in a street. The precision of the European technology of the competitor Galileo (civil, therefore lighter) allows us to locate us on a sidewalk, to fifty centimeters.
The connected and autonomous car is only one of the challenges. In the background there is above all the independence of Europe, the sovereignty of intelligence and the mastery of the many capabilities that space offers.
This is all the more important in the tense geopolitical context that we know today, but with different balance of power. Americans today are represented by billionaire Elon Musk and his launchers at low cost, recoverable and less expensive than our current generation of Ariane 5 because it has serious commercial advantages: two-thirds of the order book of his company SpaceX are institutional, insured by American public finances at prices above the market. That is to say, the private operator is financed by public funds and can therefore cut prices on the competitive private market on the international scene. This is not possible in Europe. Some European countries even prefer to launch their satellites with the American rather than with Ariane!
Space Europe really depends on political Europe. A fine subject in prospect for France which takes the presidency of Europe for six months on January 1st.
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