|Country/ies of origin||United Kingdom|
|Operator(s)||UK Space Agency, part of HM Government|
|Status||Reset into new programme|
|Regime(s)||proposed: Medium Earth orbit|
|Cost||projected: £5 bn|
The United Kingdom Global Navigation Satellite System (UK GNSS) was a United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) research programme, which between May 2018 and September 2020, developed outline proposals and develop systems for a United Kingdom (UK) owned and operated conventional satellite navigation system, as a British alternative to the European Union (EU) owned and operated Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System. The main reason was to provide a national and independent system, to endure UK security, following the UK's withdrawal from the EU as a result of Brexit. It was fully supported by the Ministry of Defence.
In September 2020, the UK GNSS programme concluded; it was relaunched as a new entity, namely the United Kingdom Space Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Programme (UK SBPNTP).
With the now universal reliance on the output provided by satellite navigation systems by many aspects of everyday life, in both private and commercial sectors, along with critical uses by military, maritime, and emergency services, continued and reliable access to such navigation systems is vital for United Kingdom. An earlier study by the UK Government warned that sustained disruption to a reliable satellite navigation could cost the British economy £1 billion per day.
The United Kingdom Global Navigation Satellite System was first discussed by the UK Government in May 2018, after the European Union told the United Kingdom that it would no longer have full access to, nor be able to use the encrypted secure component (known as the Public Regulated Service, which is only accessible to the military, emergency services, and government agencies) of the Galileo system, the European equivalent of the United States of America owned and operated Global Positioning System (GPS), originally known as Navstar GPS. This UK exclusion from Galileo is despite the fact that the United Kingdom has already contributed more than £1 billion towards the cost of setting up Galileo, together with providing much of the British development and cutting-edge technology. One suggested name for the new UK system was 'Newton', after the English mathematician and scientist Sir Isaac Newton.
The UK GNSS would be run by the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA). Medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites were planned to be launched from the proposed spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland, using a vertical launch platform in 2025, with the United Kingdom GNSS planned to be fully operational by 2030. In 2019, it was estimated that the cost of the project would be £5 billion.
The United Kingdom government said that it wanted its GNSS to be openly compatible with the United States of America's Global Positioning System (GPS), and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. The USA, and the other Five Eyes nations contributed expertise to assist the planning and construction, and in exchange, these nations would gain access to the United Kingdom's GNSS encrypted area after it is launched.
In November 2019, the United Kingdom's Space Trade Association (UKSTA) released a United Kingdom Space Manifesto, in which they state that United Kingdom "participation in a new global satellite navigation system must be secured".
In July 2020, the United Kingdom Government and India's Bharti Enterprises were successful in a joint bid to purchase the bankrupt OneWeb satellite communications company, with the UK paying £400 million (US$500 million) for a 45% stake. The UK government is considering whether OneWeb low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation could in future provide a form of GNSS service in addition to its primary purpose of fast satellite broadband.
On 24 September 2020, the UK Government announced that the UK GNSS programme would be replaced with a new project; the Space Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Programme; which will explore innovative ways to provide satellite navigation services to the UK, building on findings from the concluded UK GNSS programme. The UK Government had allocated £90 million to developing the proposals.
UK industry will benefit from a £92-million injection to design a national alternative to the EU's Galileo satellite system, ensuring UK security post Brexit.