Ever since Britain was kicked out of the Galileo project following Brexit, the country has been searching for an alternative satellite tracking and positioning system. After leaving the EU, the bloc branded Britain a “third country”, barring UK companies from participating in Galileo because it is seen as a security program in which only the 27 member states can participate.
However, a space expert has warned the government that the lack of an alternative threatens to endanger critical infrastructure.
Andy Proctor, currently director of Rethink PNT, a consulting firm, wrote: “Our critical infrastructure is at risk from the loss of PNT. , spatial or otherwise.
“We are currently critically dependent on GPS; the loss of which will have a major capacity and economic impact.
“HMG divested from the eLoran ground system which could have provided backup, although this is slowly reversing.
“For two decades there have been calls for action, but the current state of inaction regarding the PNT strategy puts our systems at risk, especially given the clear and current electronic warfare systems used in Europe today. “
With the UK kicked out of Galileo, many smaller UK satellite companies left so they could still be involved in the EU programme.
After Brexit, the UK launched the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) research program, of which Andy Proctor was the technical director.
However, when Britain’s GNSS program switched to the Space Based PNT Program (SBPP), Mr Proctor quit government, arguing that the success of the £92m GNSS program ‘seems to have been suppressed’ within of the government.
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GNSS tools are essential for national security and maritime safety, as well as for satellite navigation technology.
But all satellite technology and spacecraft are particularly susceptible to solar storms and radiation that can fry electronics and disrupt communications.
According to Tim Guy, head of the UK Space Agency’s SBPNTP, the economic impact of a UK GNSS outage could cost the government up to £1.7 billion a day.