UK Government in ‘complete denial’ after scrapping of Galileo rival plan ‘long way to go!’

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Meanwhile Tory MP Tobias Ellwood has lamented the “lack of statecraft” which saw the UK lose access to Galileo in the first place. The UK Space Agency has not directly commented on the decision to scrap the proposal, which was the subject of a £92million feasibility study launched by then-Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018.

However, in a press release issued last Thursday, it said the Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Programme (SBPP) would “explore new options for a UK satellite navigation and timing capability programme to support the nation’s critical infrastructure”.

The UKSA confirmed the launch of the SBPP would follow the work of the Global Navigation Satellite System (UK GNSS) programme, which ended yesterday.

The source – speaking on condition of anonymity – told the Government was in “complete denial” about the problems it was facing.

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Suggesting there had been a failure “to listen to alternative viewpoints when they were offered”, they added: “Note that there is nothing in the press release about making money – since that is very difficult to do when you’re competing with four alternate systems that are available for free.

“It talks principally about the UK, but doesn’t really shed much light on how the receivers for the signals transmitted from these satellites would find their way into devices owned by individuals in the UK.”

Referring to the £900million deal struck earlier this year which saw the UK Government join forces with India’s Bharti Global to acquire satellite operator OneWeb, the source added: “Since most of those devices are manufactured overseas (and are already equipped with default navigation capabilities that use the existing GNSS signals at the existing frequencies) how would a UK navigation capability based on, for instance, OneWeb be exploited?

“I think they have a very long way to go.

“What the UK needs to recognise is that a global navigation is a major Government investment, not a commercially viable project that will generate income.”

Mr Ellwood told “Greater investment in the UK’s already impressive space capabilities is welcomed.

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“But we gloss over the failure of statecraft that saw us depart from the Galileo project which was once more British than continental European.

“It is unclear how the purchase of the OneWeb lower orbit constellation of satellites fits into today’s announcement.

“Rather than compete with global positioning systems we would do better to follow the Indian and Russian model of securing a regional system used by the UK only with back up from GPS and Galileo.”

Speaking last week, 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.”

Graham Turnock, CEO UK Space Agency, added: “Our work to date has developed cutting-edge UK expertise in satellite navigation spacecraft, antenna design and control systems, while supporting high-skilled jobs.

“Now is the time to drive this work further to look into wider, more innovative ways of delivering this important national capability – to help protect our critical infrastructure and put the UK at the forefront of the development of new space technologies.” has contacted the UK Space Agency to ask them about the latest remarks by the industry source and Mr Ellwood.

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