Britain will be reliant on the United States for warnings on space debris after Brexit

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Britain could be left reliant on the United States for data on space debris crashing to earth after a no deal Brexit, Government papers suggested today.

Theresa May has repeatedly insisted that a no deal Brexit would ‘not be the end of the world’. 

But the EU is currently building a system designed to protect satellites from crashing into other equipment or debris.

It also tracks material crashing back to earth on a ‘scheduled or unscheduled basis’ but Britain could be left out of warnings in a no deal. 

Without a deal, the UK will no longer take part in the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking programme, the notice reveals.

It says: ‘If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, the UK will not be eligible to participate in the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking programme. 

‘UK organisations will not therefore be able to contribute to providing services to the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking, to participate in the scientific and technical groups to develop the programme further or be able to receive grant funding to pay for UK involvement.

‘The UK will continue to receive space, surveillance and tracking data from the United States of America.’ 

Labour MP and Best for Britain champion Jo Stevens said: ‘It is deeply worrying that the UK will be shut out of some of the most cutting edge research in the world. This research provides thousands of high-tech jobs and provides the economy billions every year.

‘Theresa May used to say Brexit wouldn’t be the end of the world – but actually it could be.

‘By walking away from these collaborative projects, we will be isolating ourselves and having to start from scratch, spending a fortune when our European counterparts have already finished the job.’

The system is designed to ensure satellites avoid colliding with each other.

It also analyses fragments after in-orbit collisions, to keep an eye on where pieces are flying.

Re-entry warnings are designed to help the civil contingency services where anything might land if it crashes through the atmosphere.  

The notice on satellites and space programmes also confirms the UK and British firms will be blocked taking on future work on Galilo, the EU’s equivalent to GPS.

Devices that use the satellite network will continue to work as normal meaning consumers should see no impact.

But the UK will be excluded from encrypted parts of the system due to come online by the mid 2020s, despite British investment in the network.

Business, academics and researchers could also lose out and those with existing contracts are at risk of penalties.

The report confirms £92million has been set aside to explore the possibilities of a UK Global Navigation Satellite System – but not to actually develop one.

 

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