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UK to work on $119M satellite system to rival EU's Galileo

The government wants to maintain the security Galileo offers post-Brexit.

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A rocket with four Galileo satellites onboard takes off from the launchpad in the European Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, in July. The UK is looking into alternative to the EU program.

- / AFP/Getty Images

The UK government is investing £92 million ($119 million) in an "independent satellite system" as an alternative to the European Union's Galileo.

It's part of an 18-month feasibility study that'll look at the design and development of UK program to maintain security if it can't have equal access to Galileo after Brexit, and is being led by the UK Space Agency with Ministry of Defense backing.

The government wants to remain involved in the Galileo program, only on an equal basis so that it can rely on information for military functions like missile guidance.

"Britain is a world leader in the space industry and satellites. We are investing in an alternative option to Galileo to ensure our future security needs are met using the UK's world-leading space sector," said Business Secretary Greg Clark.

"Our position on Galileo has been consistent and clear. We have repeatedly highlighted the specialist expertise we bring to the project and the risks in time delays and cost increases that the European Commission is taking by excluding UK industry."

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The Galileo program launched its first satellite in 2011, so that the EU wouldn't have to rely on the US Global Positioning System (GPS) for commercial, military and other applications such as guiding aircraft, Reuters notes.

The UK has invested £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) in Galileo since the project began in 2003, according to the Financial Times, and the UK Space Agency was set up in 2010 in part to coordinate its involvement with the program.

The agency didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

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