Money released for ‘UK sat-nav’ to study

Philip Davies/SSTL

UK Minister set aside £92m for the investigation of the feasibility of the establishment of a sovereign and independent satellite navigation system.

The new network would be an alternative to the European Union, the Galileo project, in the UK is set to lose most important roles, the outlet as a result of the UK’s EU.

The UK Space Agency to lead the technical evaluation.

Officials participating in the British industry to spec a potential design, engineering requirements, schedule and estimated costs.

The first contracts for this study work is exhibited may be, already in October.

The UKSA expects the review to take about a year and a half.

The Minister could then decide if you really want to go with a cart, have a price tag in the billions.
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Looking for a deal

London and Brussels were still negotiating over the future of the UK participation in Galileo.

The parties are currently in dispute with the UK access and industrial contribution to the system of the Public Regulated service (PRS), the beyond. March of the next year.

PRS is a special navigation and timing signal, intended for use by authorities, the armed forces and the rescue workers. To expect online in the year 2020, it is designed to be available and to be robust also in times of crisis.

Brussels says that London will not immediately have access to PRS if the UK leaves the European bloc, since it is a foreign company. London says the PRS is crucial for the military and security interests, and warns that, if it is not in use and the work on the signal, then it will go the way of Galileo in its entirety.

The Prime Minister Theresa May, who is currently on a tour of Africa, told the BBC it was “that was no empty threat, our bargaining objectives”. The UK did not want to end, just a “user” needs full access to the Galileo, if it will continue to contribute to the system, she added.

Europe’s Galileo system

PA

A project of the European Commission and the European space Agency
24 satellites in a full system, but it will be six parts in orbit
26-space ship in orbit today; the number of 30 is likely to be achieved in the year 2021
Original budget was 3 billion euros, but now costs more than three times as
Working with the US GPS, the Chinese Beidou and Russia’s Glonass systems
Promises possible real-time position determination to a Meter or less
‘Best of British’

The UK as a member state of the EU has been. invested £1.2 bn in Galileo as a contribution to the building of the satellite, which define the operation in the orbit, and to important aspects of the system-encryption, including the PRS itself

“The European Commission’s post-British EU exit rules imposed on British companies to compete with the Airbus Defence and Space Ltd. will not be able to, for the Galileo work, we had made over the last decade,” Colin Paynter, managing Director of Airbus DS in the UK, said.

“We welcome, therefore, the UK Space Agency today’s announcement, we believe that they allow, Airbus, together with other concerned British company to bring together an Alliance of the Best of British produce innovative solutions for a possible future UK navigation system.”Analysis – Could the UK do you find it alone?

Few people doubt the UK is able to develop its own satellite-navigation system. But the task would not be straight-forward. Here are just four questions that need to be resolved before the Minister can sign off on such a big project:

COST: The initial estimate for a sovereign system, if you first mute was, in the region of £3 billion-5 billion, But a large space-infrastructure projects have a history of under-estimating the complexity. Both GPS as well as Galileo cost far more and lasted much longer to build than you expected. In addition to the set-up costs, annual running costs, which run in the case of Galileo and GPS in the hundreds of millions of euros/dollars. A sat-nav system takes a long-term commitment from successive governments.

ADVANTAGE: Only the year-to-year funding for a sat-nav system would be likely to dwarf what the British government currently spends on all civilian space – approximately £400 per year. The question is whether investment would be elsewhere, either in the space or military sectors, and higher returns, says Bowen at the University of Leicester space and international relations expert Bleddyn: “We’ve had £100m [feasibility] doubling spend, what to the government to develop a launcher capability in the UK, which is only £50m – it could make a real difference. You could also, for the money, some of the satellite images for the MoD, which would turn buy, your skills overnight.”

SKILLS: the UK has a vibrant space sector. It has many of the necessary skills and technologies to build its own sat-nav system, but not all have them. Many of the components for the Galileo satellites, for example, have a single provider in Europe. If the UK can develop domestic supply chains for the parts that it needs, it may not be an alternative, but to get them out of the continent. The expenditure of the project budget in the EU-27 may not be politically acceptable because the state of the current relations on Galileo.

FREQUENCIES: The UKSA, says a British system would be compatible with the American GPS and, by extension, with Galileo because these two systems, their timing, and navigation signals in the same part of the frequency spectrum. This simplifies the receiver and allows the manufacturers to produce devices that will work with all available systems. This is the case for the chips in the latest smartphones, for example. But America and the EU had a huge range in the year 2003, the frequency of compatibility and the potential for interference The British engineers finally showed, the two systems could exist like co was. You would do the same, again for a British sovereign network. Without international acceptance on the frequencies in use, not a project could begin.

Some analysts believe that the most fruitful approach for the UK, would be an extension of its space know-how and skills in areas not covered already by others – in-space monitoring or in the safe space of communication, for example. This would make the UK an even more attractive partner for all types of projects, including Galileo.

Alexandra Stickings from the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, said: “the work is on its way to a negotiated agreement on the Galileo would make it possible to judge the UK to then build your space, budget and strategy, the UK skills grow and to provide the things that we are able as an international partner.”

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos