Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, off you go: Snout of UK space forcibly removed from EU satellite trough

Brit industry, military locked out


From the department of "you only just realised this?" come reports that the UK government has been somewhat taken aback that the EU plans to exclude Britain from the Galileo satellite programme due to Brexit.

Galileo is a European satellite constellation which, when complete in 2020, will be an alternative to the US Global Positioning System (GPS) network.

The costs, of which the UK has paid a portion, are expected to top €2.9bn (PDF) by the time the system is complete.

The initial impact will be felt by the UK's aerospace industry, which will be unable to bid on future contracts worth hundreds of millions over the coming years.

It was clear in evidence given to the UK's own EU Internal Market Sub-Committee earlier this month by industry leaders that work would be leaving UK shores as business stares down the barrel of Brexit.

The EU had already kicked off plans to move the back-up monitoring site from the UK to Spain citing, among others, security concerns.

"Security concerns" may also preclude the British military using the navigation system for which the UK has contributed towards.

With reports coming in that Number 10 is at once "outraged" and "deeply disappointed" at the wholly unsurprising move, The Register was given a statement by the office of business secretary Greg Clark:

The UK has a world-leading space sector that has contributed a significant amount of specialist expertise to the Galileo programme. The government has been clear that we want our critical role in this important project, which will help strengthen European security, to continue as we develop our deep and special partnership with the EU.

This could only happen with complete UK involvement in all aspects of Galileo, including the key secure elements which the UK has unique specialisms in and have helped to design and implement.

Users attempting to learn more about the Galileo programme from the UK government's own website will be disappointed to learn that clicking the link at the base of the page will direct to a terse European Commission statement: "The information you are looking for has moved."

Hopefully not a sign of things to come for the UK space industry. ®


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