The UK may soon lose access to the Galileo space project, a joint venture between the nations of the EU trade bloc, despite being their largest spender.
Galileo is the satellite navigation system which was first launched in 2003 to reduce Europe’s reliance on the GPS technology developed by the US military. Non-EU states are forbidden from working on the project without special security agreements.
As a result of Brexit, Gavin Williamson, the British Secretary of State for Defence, announced the country’s first Defence Space Strategy. National security was a central topic in Williamson’s speech who emphasised “emerging space-based threats [such as] jamming of civilian [broadcaster] satellites and satellite navigation to support military capabilities.”
Tensions between UK and EU officials have escalated recently as the UK threatened to ban British companies from accepting new Galileo contracts. Similar reports have surfaced of attempts at sabotaging the project to prevent the transfer of knowledge and technology to EU.
However, the announcement suggests Britain has accepted the loss of Galileo despite already investing $1.85 billion into the project. The new space program will be headed by the Royal Air Force and would cost an estimated $5.7 billion according to the latest feasibility study.
This story is taken from the 25 May 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.