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BEIS unveils new satnav research programme

25/09/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

The Government has launched a programme to develop new ways to use satellite navigation services to the UK.

Satnav view of Europe

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the Space Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Programme (SBPP) could support transport systems, energy networks, mobile communications and national security and defence, while boosting the UK’s space industry.

This will follow the work of the UK’s Global Navigation Satellite System (UK GNSS) programme, which is due to conclude at the end of the month and has developed outline plans for a conventional satellite system as an alternative to American GPS or the EU’s Galileo. 

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Satellites underpin so many of the services that we all use every single day, from precise train timetables on our phones and satnavs in our cars.   

“Through our Space Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Programme, we will draw on the strengths of the UK’s already thriving space industry to understand our requirements for a robust and secure satellite navigation system. This includes considering low orbiting satellites that could deliver considerable benefits to people and businesses right across the UK, while potentially reducing our dependency on foreign satellite systems.”

Need for more options

BEIS said that a Cabinet Office Study examining the need for a UK space based system for secure positioning, navigation and timing concluded that any solution would need to examine more options and further work is needed to determine what form a potential system takes so it provides value for money.

It added that the SBPP could involve collaboration with international allies to share satellite navigation services, costs and technology.

Image from Sean MacEntee, CC BY 2.0

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