UK government sets aside funding for its own GPS network

A Galileo gps satellite

One of the unfortunate consequences of Brexit might be that the UK gets locked out of Europe's nascent Galileo GPS satellite project – but funding has now been set aside to develop a network of satellites to provide upgraded coverage for the UK specifically.

The BBC reports that at least £92m has been set aside to look into the possibility of developing a UK-only GPS system. If the network got the go-ahead, the total cost would likely run into billions of pounds, and the UK has already spend around £1.2 billion on helping to fund the Galileo project with its EU partners.

Discussions over whether the UK can remain part of the Galileo initiative are ongoing, but the government obviously wants some sort of backup plan just in case. As with everything else Brexit-related, it's all up in the air for the time being.

Getting from A to B

Connect to a GPS network in the UK today and you're actually using a US network. European countries are keen to get their own network of satellites operational though, rather than relying on a service owned and provided by the US.

That's a reminder that GPS is about more than getting from A to B on your daily commute – it's essential for military operations, whether it's locating soldiers in the field or accurately targeting weapons. With that in mind it's not surprising that governments don't want to rely on satellites provided by other countries.

"If Galileo no longer meets our security requirements and UK industry cannot compete on a fair basis, it is logical to look at alternatives," the UK Business Secretary Greg Clark told the BBC back in April – but for now this is just a feasibility study.

Header image: ESA