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Galileo row: Government split over new satellite system

by ace
Galileo row: Government split over new satellite system

A £ 92 million feasibility study launched in August 2018 is looking for ways to provide a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) capable of operating similarly to Galileo, at a projected cost of £ 5 billion. Despite spending about £ 1.2 billion on the EU project, in addition to being instrumental in developing much of the technology, the UK was effectively excluded as a result of Brexit.

Express.co.uk understands that the UK scheme is still a possibility, with a UKSA team working on it, funded through September.

A decisive meeting of the GNSS Task Force Group on 23 June will decide whether or not to proceed.

The government's proposal is likely to involve creating a constellation of more than 20 satellites similar to the US GPS, Russia's GLONASS, China's BEIDOU and GALILEO.

However, this option would be expensive and unlikely to offer anything new, since four similar systems already exist.

Alternatively, the system could be modeled on India's IRNSS, or Japan's QZSS, involving far fewer satellites and therefore much cheaper.

A British space industry source told Express.co.uk: "The MOD is not on the same page as the UKSA in this program.

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The UKSA was tasked with providing a system similar to GPS / Galileo, on behalf of the government, with the support of MOD, as set out in the original announcement in August 2018.

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: "The government has made its space ambitions clear and is developing a new national space strategy to bring long-term strategic and commercial benefits to the UK.

"We are working closely with the UK Space Agency, which investigates the requirements, design specifications and costs of a capacity in the UK's Global Satellite Navigation System, within that ambition."

Military personnel are incorporated into the program to optimize and enhance the benefits of operational defense capabilities, while shaping requirements.

A spokesman for the MOD said: "The MOD is firmly committed to resolving the resilience issues of the satellites.

"The UK's Global Satellite Navigation System program is being led by BEIS and the UK Space Agency, with the full support of MOD."

Boris Johnson indicated his determination to move forward with the project shortly after replacing Theresa May as prime minister last year.

He said: "We will now continue in our own position, satellite navigation and Earth observation systems – UK assets orbiting in space with all the long-term strategic and commercial benefits for this country."

Speaking on the sidelines of the UK Space Conference last year about plans for a British system, Jan Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency, an autonomous organization separate from the European Union, told Express.co.uk: "I should be more diplomatic, but I think it’s not a good idea.

"If it is a strategic and tactical move, I can accept it, but we must do everything possible to ensure that Galileo is a European satellite navigation system available to the entire club and that means, of course, including the UK" .

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