What is the Galileo programme?
Galileo is the EU’s global navigation satellite system which went live in 2016. It was created by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is operated by the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA).
While interoperable with several other satellite systems, including the USA’s GPS system, the goal is to provide a European alternative.
Since leaving the EU, the UK no longer participates in Galileo. The UK does not have access for defence or critical national infrastructure and cannot play any part in Galileo’s development.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May previously planned to replace the UK’s participation in Galileo with the British Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). This was then scrapped in September 2020.
Instead, the Government has now asked companies to provide “innovative” alternatives however this has divided opinion in the UK space industry. In November 2020, the UK Government acquired the global satellite communications company OneWeb.
There are ongoing discussions regarding the possibility of using OneWeb’s “low earth orbit” satellites for a UK navigation system.