The UK Government will explore new options for a UK satellite navigation and timing capability programme to support the nation’s critical infrastructure, say UKSpace.
Seeking a replacement for the Galileo satellite navigation system project that it is no longer part of after leaving the European Union, the UK now looking at options short of building its own satellite navigation system.
Currently, the UK is entirely dependent on foreign systems for critical navigation services.
It is understood that the government will look at wider range of options for a UK satellite navigation and timing capability, critical for energy networks and communications to maritime, aviation and defence
“The Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Programme (SBPP) will explore new and alternative ways that could be used to deliver vital satellite navigation services to the United Kingdom which are critical for the functioning of transport systems, energy networks, mobile communications and national security and defence, whilst boosting the British space industry and developing the UK’s own capabilities in these services.
This will follow the work of the UK’s Global Navigation Satellite System (UK GNSS) programme, which is due to conclude at the end of the month. UK GNSS is an exploration programme which has developed outline plans for a conventional satellite system as an alternative to American GPS or the EU’s Galileo. The programme will now be reset as the SBPP to build on this work to consider newer, more innovative ideas of delivering global ‘sat nav’ and secure satellite services to meet public, government and industry needs.”
According to a UK Government news release, the government has made clear its ambitions for the UK to become a globally competitive space power and is taking action through the newly established National Space Council, emerging National Space Strategy and the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, “to create the conditions for a strong, secure and innovative space sector that delivers for the British people”.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“Satellites underpin so many of the services that we all use every single day, from precise train timetables on our phones and satnavs in our cars. Through our Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Programme, we will draw on the strengths of the UK’s already thriving space industry to understand our requirements for a robust and secure satellite navigation system. This includes considering low orbiting satellites that could deliver considerable benefits to people and businesses right across the UK, while potentially reducing our dependency on foreign satellite systems.”
According to SpaceNews here, the UK effort started in 2018 when the British government failed to reach an agreement with the European Union about continued participation in the E.U.’s Galileo satellite navigation program once Britain leaves the E.U. Without an agreement, the British government would not have access to Galileo’s more secure navigation service, and would not be able to participate in development and operation of the system.
Earlier in the year, we reported that the UK appeared to be stepping away from building its own system.