UK loses space data centre to Spain

UK loses space data centre to Spain
© OHB / ESA Galileo FOC satellites

Spain was selected on Thursday as the new host of a data centre that protects information gathered by the EU’s satellite programme, which must move from the UK after Brexit.

The secure facility helps ensure the security of the Galileo satellite programme, used by government defence programmes as well as civilian uses. The centre, which is a backup for the main infrastructure in Paris, France, is currently located in Swanwick, England.

The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GNSS) Programme Committee voted today (18 January) in favour of relocating the centre. The move comes amid concerns over the facility being located in a non-EU country.

Even if the UK remains part of the Galileo programme, just like Norway and Switzerland, non-EU members are excluded from participating in security aspects.


Europe launched its first two operational satellites for Galileo in October 2011, the full infrastructure will be composed of:

·         A constellation of 30 satellites in Medium-Earth Orbit. Each satellite contains a navigation payload and a Search and Rescue (SAR) transponder;

·         16 sensor stations;

·         Five mission uplink stations;

·         Two control centres;

·         Five telemetry tracking and command (TT&C) stations; and

·         Four service facilities: the Galileo service centre, the Galileo reference centre, the Search and Rescue data service provider, and the Galileo security monitoring centre.

A commission spokesperson said: “Given the overriding importance for the Galileo programme of maintaining the business continuity of the backup site, it is necessary that the UK backup site … is transferred to a location in the EU27.”


Following the relocation of two EU agencies, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA), the Galileo technical infrastructure is the latest facility to be relocated.

The centre in Spain will employ up to 30 people. Currently there is a single person working in the UK as part of the setup phase for the Galileo programme.

Madrid will pay the relocation costs, while the EU will continue to pay for the operations including equipment.

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