A consortium has been chosen to conduct a feasibility study on building a European-owned space-based communication system.

Selected by the European Commission (EC), the consortium consists of major space and digital players such as Airbus, Arianespace, Eutelsat, Hispasat, OHB, Orange, SES, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space.

The study will focus on the design, development and launch of the system. The contract is valued at €7.1m and the feasibility study will be carried out for a year.

The consortium will bring together the user and mission requirements and provide a preliminary architectural design and service provision concept, along with the projected cost.

Airbus said that the study will evaluate ‘the feasibility of a new initiative aiming to strengthen European digital sovereignty’.

Once completed, the connectivity system will provide the European Union (EU) and its Member States with secure communication services.

It will also offer broadband connectivity for European citizens, companies and mobility sectors.

The new EU flagship programme will also complement Copernicus and Galileo.

The system, which is advocated by Commissioner Breton, will be developed based on the EU’s GOVSATCOM programme of pooling and sharing satellite services.

According to Airbus, the programme will ‘strengthen the role of satellites in the 5G ecosystem’ verify interoperability and take ‘into account the evolution towards upcoming 6G technologies’.