Macron makes huge Brexit swipe at ESA summit
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The French President appeared to take a dig at the UK when speaking at the European Space Agency (ESA) in Toulouse earlier this week. He listed off the successful space programmes the UK has been denied access to, despite still being a part of the ESA. But Rob Adlard, CEO of British aerospace company Gravitilab, said that UK has a good chance of having a successful space sector without the need to be involved in these European programmes.
He told Express.co.uk: “The new space revolution is about taking things that has been done by governments and international organisations and providing those things on a commercial basis which widens access, creates new markets.
“Everyone in the space sector thinks everything brand new is happening.”
Britain was kicked out of Galileo after Brexit, a satellite constellation providing positioning services despite the UK contributing £1billion to the £8.5billion costs.
But when Mr Macron spoke of this at the ESA Summit as something the agency should be proud of, he seemed to ignore the fact that the UK plays a role in the strengths of the ESA too.
Now with innovative companies like Gravitilab, which plans to launch UK-built rockets into space by 2023 from British spaceports, the UK space sector seems to be making some great steps.
And despite being kicked out of certain projects, Mr Aldard said that the UK can benefit from not being part of some of the EU programmes as can set up its own alternatives.
He told Express.co.uk: “We don’t have to be a part of the EU to do any of those things (EU projects).”
But he did warn that there was a price attached.
Mr Aldard said: “There is a price tag attached towards doing it ourselves. But it’s not like you can leave the EU, not spend the money and be in the same position. We are going to be worse off unless we spend the money to do it ourselves.
“So we can do all of that, and if we want to do an alternative system and have UK launch companies launching British satellites that would be the most incredible boost to the industry.”
And Britain does appear to be launching a system that could one day rival the EU project it was kicked out of.
OneWeb is a global satellite communications company that has a network of satellites which the Government bought a share in back in July 2020.
The constellation of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites beam signals in 3G, 5G, LTE and Wi-Fi for high-speed internet access to all corners of the globe.
While not carrying out the same functions as Galileo, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has tipped the system could one day be adapted to rival the EU’s project.
Speaking before the Science and Technology last week, Mr Kwarteng said: “In terms of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), which Galileo is all about, that is something that we could do ourselves.”
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And Mr Macron even seemed to be envious of the UK’s progress with Oneweb.
He said at the ESA Summit: ” We took our eye off the ball. We did not keep our eyes fixed on a space common vision.
“We let others get ahead of us. They invested more and took bets that were better than ours.
“People outside of Europe are taking a lead and we can react to that.”
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