The UK government has allocated £92m from a Brexit fund to an 18-month long study into the design and development of a UK programme as an alternative satellite system to the EU’s Galileo.
The study will develop proposals for a British Global Navigation Satellite System, which would be an independent UK satellite system as an alternative to Galileo. The work is being led by the UK Space Agency and has been supported by the Ministry of Defence. The £92m investment will be funded by the government’s £3bn Brexit readiness fund and is designed to meet the UK’s security requirements and provide post-Brexit security for the UK’s cryptography and sovereign space sectors.
How will the investment affect the UK Space Sector?
The development of the UK system would mean there are several multi-million-pound contracts available for British space companies, and the programme will support UK jobs in spacecraft and antenna design, satellite control systems, cryptography, and cyber security. The investment comes alongside other major UK initiatives to develop the space sector, such as a £99m National Space Test Facility at Harwell and a £31.5m investment into a spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland.
Will the UK remain involved in Galileo?
The UK government is currently negotiating with the European Commission to secure an agreement that the UK will remain involved in the EU’s Galileo programme. The Business Secretary Greg Clark said “Our position on Galileo has been consistent and clear. We have repeatedly highlighted the specialist expertise we bring to the project and the risks in time delays and cost increases that the European Commission is taking by excluding UK industry.”
However, to continue its participation in the project the UK would need assurance that the UK industry can collaborate on an equal basis and have access to security information for missile guidance from Galileo. Regardless of whether the UK decides to implement British Global Navigation Satellite System post-Brexit or instead remain a full member of Galileo, the development programme is expected to support the UK’s growing space sector.