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Defence Committee calls UK ‘third-rank space power'

The UK Defence Committee has called the government's approach to establishing its own PNT capability, after having left the EU Galileo project four years ago, as woeful. Pictured is GIOVE-A, the first element of the Galileo In-Orbit Validation phase launched in December 2005. (European Space Agency)

The UK Defence Committee has called the UK a “third-rank space power” that is lagging behind Italy.

A UK Defence Committee report titled ‘Defence Space: through adversity to the stars ? ”, published on 19 October, said that cross-Whitehall governance on space lacks coherence, clarity, and direction, and that the government's approach to developing a sovereign Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) capability is deficient. As a result of the inquiry, the committee said that the UK is at best, a third-rank space power that is lagging behind Italy.

The committee found it unacceptable that in “almost four years since the UK was excluded from [the] EU's Galileo programme, and with tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money spent on considering a replacement, the government appears no closer to coming to any conclusions about [the] development of the UK's own space-based Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) capabilities”.

The report noted that the UK Space Agency's ‘Space-Based PNT programme' has seemingly disappeared. Consequently, the country risks falling behind its peers and adversaries. The committee has subsequently called on the government to publish conclusions on the PNT programme, and to set out a clear timetable to progress the strategy.

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