Are EU watching? Brexit Britain set to build AND launch Galileo alternative from UK

Europe showing ‘interest’ in OneWeb says David Morris

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The UK’s OneWeb network, while currently carrying out different functions to Galileo, has been tipped to one day rival the EU’s network. It is a constellation of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that beam signals in 3G, 5G, LTE and Wi-Fi for high-speed internet access to all corners of the globe. Many small satellite companies left the UK to take part in Galileo, but they may now be kicking themselves after seeing Britain’s advances in the satellite industry.

Launch service provider Spaceport Cornwall hopes to work with OneWeb and other UK satellite companies too.

The company looks poised to launch a satellite in the first-ever rocket launch from UK soil this summer.

Spaceport Cornwall’s CEO Melissa Thorpe told “They (OneWeb) are a UK company, and our ambitions would be to work with any UK-based satellite manufacturing company.

“That is the whole point of creating a spaceport in the UK, to service our existing satellite base here.

“At the minute they (satellites) are all being shipped overseas to launch and we want to capture that marketplace here in the UK – We are open to working with any of the UK manufacturers, including OneWeb.”

OneWeb, the world’s second-biggest satellite operator, is not the only UK company building small satellites.

Other companies include Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and AAC Clyde Space.

Britain’s satellite sector now appears to be picking up speed after it was kicked out of Galileo.

British company Orbex, like Spaceport Cornwall, also provide launch services for small satellites.

CEO Chris Lamour told “Right now, I think it is widely recognised that we are well ahead of anyone else doing this in Europe.

“For the past three or four years the UK has been well ahead.”

“We can apply for launch licenses that almost no other country in the EU can do right now.

“The UK is actually quite a big player in the generic space sector in terms of satellites and downstream services where we analyse the data in the satellites.”

Back in September, 30 OneWeb satellites were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Arianespace, the company that organised the launch, said: “OneWeb’s constellation of 650 satellites will deliver high-speed, low-latency enterprise-grade connectivity services to a wide range of customer sectors including enterprise, Government, maritime and aviation customers.

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“Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to every unconnected area where fibre cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide.”

Back in July 2020, the Government pledged to invest £400million in OneWeb to give it a stake in a business after the company went bankrupt.

The deal included a pledge to bring the manufacturing of OneWeb’s satellites to the UK.

The company is now working with a portfolio of companies, including Hanwha, which recently invested £200million in the operator.

Hanwha made the investment via Hanwha Systems, the defence systems division that last year acquired Phasor Solutions, a British satellite antenna start-up.

The group will have a seat on OneWeb’s board.

OneWeb said the addition of one of South Korea’s leading defence groups as a shareholder would bring relationships with new Government customers and an expanded geographical reach.

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