The UK's new space minister, Lord Sainsbury, has announced a $17 million boost for navigation and earth observation programmes, including a 25% UK stake in work towards the development of a proposed European global satellite navigation system.

Initial investment amounts to £5 million ($8 million), while a total of £5.65 million ($9 million) has been put into the first phase of the European Space Agency (ESA) Living Planet Earth observation programme, and investment in a data processing facility at Farnborough for the Envisat observation satellite, which is to be launched in 2000.

Under the navigation programme, the UK will be the equal largest contributor with France and Germany towards the development of a satellite system to complement the US Navstar and Russian Glonass global positioning (GPS) satellites. The first phase involves the inclusion of GPS payloads on European communication satellites.

The minister said at the show that the decision to commit an extra £10.65 million over the next two and a half years reflects UK policy to support scientific research in the space sector and assist industry in developing its competitiveness in the sector.

Source: Flight International