Inmarsat satellite tests signal for replacing lost UK navigation capability

TAMPA, Fla. — Inmarsat mentioned June 8 it has began beaming a take a look at navigation sign from an growing older satellite tv for pc to assist the UK exchange space-based capabilities it misplaced following Brexit.

The British satellite tv for pc operator is main a gaggle of native corporations which can be growing a substitute for the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), which Europe makes use of to reinforce and enhance GPS companies within the area.

The U.Okay. misplaced entry to EGNOS satellites and floor stations final summer season on account of the nation’s 2016 vote to depart the European Union.

This consists of entry to the EGNOS Security-of-Life (SoL) service that allows plane to make high-precision touchdown approaches with fewer expensive ground-based navigation aids.

The U.Okay.’s departure from the EU additionally means the nation is now not concerned in Galileo, Europe’s world satellite tv for pc navigation system (GNSS) that’s set to achieve full operational functionality this 12 months.

The British authorities has mentioned it’s trying to develop quite a lot of impartial space-based capabilities within the wake of Brexit, which additionally aligns with its technique to develop the nation’s home house business.

In response to Inmarsat, it has repurposed a transponder on its I-3 F5 satellite tv for pc to broadcast a positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) sign that gives a take a look at mattress for changing EGNOS SoL companies.

The operator mentioned the sign will assist British corporations and regulators validate plans for a sovereign UK Area-Based mostly Augmentation System (UKSBAS) to complement GPS.

The plan is for UKSBAS to make use of an overlay sign to enhance companies for satellite tv for pc navigation customers in U.Okay. airspace and waters, rising positioning accuracy to some centimeters in contrast with the few meters offered by customary GPS alone.

Though I-3 F5 was launched in 1998 to offer connectivity over the U.Okay. and the Atlantic Ocean, Inmarsat spokesperson Matthew Knowles mentioned it’s anticipated to have sufficient gasoline to proceed working even after the primary part of the UKSBAS checks are because of wrap up in July.

Goonhilly Earth Station is offering the sign uplink for the checks from Cornwall within the southwest of England. GMV NSL, the U.Okay.-based satellite tv for pc navigation specialist owned by Spanish know-how supplier GMV, is producing navigational knowledge from the sign.

Knowles mentioned the businesses have been awarded about $1.5 million final 12 months from the UK Area Company, through the European Area Company’s Navigation Innovation and Assist Programme (NAVISP), to conduct the primary part of the checks.

He mentioned additional testing phases are set to happen by means of mid-2024 earlier than UKSBAS can change into operational.

In 2017, Inmarsat began conducting checks for the same augmentation community from one other satellite tv for pc in its fleet for Australia and New Zealand, that are in the course of procuring an operational system by means of an open authorities tender.

Knowles mentioned their program is “anticipated to start maybe later this 12 months or early subsequent 12 months.”

Navigational independence

The British authorities had initially launched into plans to develop its personal GNSS following Brexit.

Nevertheless, the federal government successfully determined to not pursue a full-fledged satellite tv for pc navigation constellation in September 2020, when it changed the GNSS challenge with its Area-Based mostly Positioning Navigation and Timing Programme (SBPP).

Inmarsat was one in all six corporations in Could that gained UK Area Company awards beneath SBPP — value greater than two million British kilos in complete — to review technical and price points related to satellite tv for pc navigation programs.

UK Area Company spokesperson Gareth Bethell mentioned these corporations have since reported their findings to the federal government, which is contemplating them and “is engaged on subsequent steps.”

Knowles mentioned the UKSBAS challenge “will assist construct up expertise and functionality within the business” ought to the federal government determine to pursue impartial satellite tv for pc navigational capabilities. 

British megaconstellation startup OneWeb, which is partly owned by the British authorities, can be contemplating including PNT to companies to its present and next-generation satellites.

Startups together with California-based Xona Area Programs, which just lately deployed a take a look at satellite tv for pc, are additionally growing plans for constellations that might complement or exchange present GNSS capabilities.

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