Britain’s own satellite navigation system, envisioned to fill the country’s Galileo void created by Brexit, may never see the light of day. Government officials don’t want to spend tax revenues to meet projected increasing costs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had enthusiastically supported a proposal for a £5 billion (U.S. $ 6.1 billion) project, and indeed it would have presented a boon to British aerospace industry. But now that he is preoccupied with the coronavirus crisis, ministers in his Cabinet are moving to quash the program as unaffordable.
Britain’s space industry had been deemed a national priority and was playing a key role in Galileo before the UK was barred from the program by its Brexit move. Surrey Satellite Navigation Ltd (SSTL) manufactured the majority, the near totality, of payloads aboard Galileo satellites now aloft. But the European Union stated allowing a non-member state, which Britain now effectively is, to use its military-grade signal would endanger security. Doubtless there were economic considerations as well.
The move to build a very British satnav system had been stimulated by a report that the British economy could lose an £1 billion per day if GPS became unavailable for any reason. A 2018 study lasting 18 months and costing £92 million assessed the feasibility of a UK satellite system; it concluded that a £5 billion cost seemed realistic. In March 2020, the project was postponed for six months as concerns grew about total costs rising further.
Photo: SSTL’s Galileo payload team with Payload #22, delivered in 2016. Courtesy SSTL.By Inside GNSS
A new marine-certified quad-band GNSS receiver, the LD900 from VERIPOS, delivers accurate and reliable positioning in demanding offshore environments. The LD900 can track four GNSS frequencies simultaneously to ensure a precise position is always available at sea.By Inside GNSS
A new mobile app, Galileo Green Lane, facilitates the free movement of freight, reduces waiting times at European Union borders, and prioritizes essential goods during pandemic response. The app uses Galileo positioning services to address the needs of border control authorities and truck drivers, with two intuitive user interfaces. The app was developed by the European GNSS Agency (GSA) in collaboration with the European Commission.By Inside GNSS
Experts at the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency have developed a software-based tool that can estimate the area where an interfering signal would degrade or deny GNSS signals, and assess the scale of the interfering signal and its potential impact on operations. Principally of interest are jamming or spoofing attacks on GPS or Galileo, of course.
The Radar Electromagnetic and Communication Coverage Tool (REACT), was sponsored by the NATO Navigation and Identification Programme of Work. It serves as a proof-of-concept of how analytical tools could support the execution of operations. The tool is also available to NATO Nations free of charge. For now, the software is only used for trial and experimentation.
To use the software, operators input information on the particular jammers – their locations and technical characteristics — and the software produces a map of the area where the interfering signals would degrade or deny GNSS receivers. This can be displayed on the NATO Core Geographical Information System (GIS) map.
The next phase of the project focuses on ensuring the software can work on NATO classified networks, which would make it more available to operational commands to test and ensure such support measures are properly integrated into NATO operations.
The software and its estimations were demonstrated to operators during exercise Trident Jupiter 2019, part 1, to collect their feedback. The exercise gathered 3,000 military and civilian personnel as participants, evaluators and observers. Thirty NATO member and partner nations participated in nine different exercise locations across Europe.
“Ten consecutive twelve-hour working days and a relentless, ever-increasing, battle-rhythm tempo came to an end as Exercise Trident Jupiter 2019-1 (TRJU19-1) reached completion on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019,” the agency stated.
TRJU19 was the largest and most complex exercise planned and executed by the Alliance’s Joint Warfare Centre to date. TRJU19-2 took place in March 2020.
“NATO’s adversaries have the ability to degrade or deny GPS-enabled capabilities,” said Jean-Philippe Saulay, a NATO Navigation and Identification Officer. “NATO must take appropriate measures to ensure Allied forces can operate in a degraded or denied environment.”
“NATO must maintain superiority in the electromagnetic environment, including but not limited to, positioning, navigation and timing services,” said Dr Enrico Casini, Communications and Navigation Engineer at the NCI Agency. “Situational awareness of navigation systems in a contested electromagnetic environment contributes to that superiority. NATO is enhancing its knowledge of electronic warfare technology,” Dr Casini said. “The electromagnetic environment has become even more contested in recent years. One aspect of that is interference with GNSS systems.”
Photos courtesy NATO Communications and Information Agency.By Inside GNSS
GPS keeps a digital twin sequestered in El Segundo, California. Galileo has an Earth-bound space vehicle in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, straining at its bonds, yearning to break free and fly with its brethren. Both constellation “ghosts” exist in an eerie testing twilight, being made to replicate the movements and reactions of their free-flying families. Their sacrifices could lead to better, more robust satellites in future generations.By Alan Cameron
At the 12th EU Space Conference in Brussels, Thierry Breton made his first appearance as the new European Commissioner for Internal Market, and a remarkable appearance it was. In his position, Breton is charged with overseeing two of the European Commission’s Directorates General, that of Communications Networks, Content and Technology, also known as DG CONNECT, and Defense Industry and Space, also known, cleverly, as DG DEFIS. In French, defis means “challenges.”By Peter Gutierrez
The European Union’s eCall emergency response system automatically calls emergency services in the event of a serious road accident, transmitting location information from a GNSS receiver (GPS and/or Galileo) installed in the car to local emergency agencies.By Inside GNSS
The 2020 Space Symposium has been rescheduled for October 31—November 2 this year, to be held as usual at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. GPS in particular and GNSS in general always form an important part of the program. The annual assembly gathers leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs from the civil, commercial, military, research, and international sectors of the world’s space community.By Inside GNSS
The European GNSS Agency (GSA) has posted a list of location-GNSS-Galileo based applications that may be useful tools against diffusion of COVID-19.
The applications cover a range of uses from supporting public authorities to assisting citizens in their everyday life under social distancing, closures and quarantines.By Inside GNSS
“Galileo is a true European success story,
and I am proud if in a small way I have contributed to building Europe with it.”
European Union space mainstay Carlo des Dorides, Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency (GSA) since 2011, retired from this post at the end of January. He was scheduled to speak at the 12th EU Space Conference in Brussels that month, but had to skip out when he was called to a special budget session of the European Parliament. It would have been his last appearance in a public forum as GSA chief. Inside GNSS met with him in Brussels to talk and to say farewell.By Peter Gutierrez
Previously, controlled reception pattern antennas (CRPAs) were only in the military domain, and highly classified. The need to counter increasing GNSS signal jamming and spoofing in the civil realm has brought CRPAs into limited use there as well. How to test for their efficacy in product design and development?
A free webinar on Wednesday, March 25 from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time addresses the topic “GNSS Vulnerability Testing and the Controlled Reception Pattern Antenna (CRPA).” This technically rich, educational event is sponsored by Spirent Communications and Inside GNSS.By Inside GNSS
The European Space Agency (ESA) has preordered four additional Galileo launches on the new Ariane 6 rocket from Arianespace. Starting in January 2022, the launches will orbit eight satellites from Batch 3 to support the final deployment of the Galileo constellation and the replacement of certain satellites.By Inside GNSS