UK to Join Bidding for Bankrupt OneWeb

Huh.

The Financial Times reports that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to invest about £500 million ($621 million) as part of a wider consortium bid in bankrupt satellite provider OneWeb.

The company, which planned to offer satellite broadband services, launched 74 spacecraft in Earth orbit before it ran out of money in March. OneWeb has a manufacturing facility in Florida that is a joint venture with Airbus.

The British government is looking to develop its own satellite navigation system because UK companies were barred from being involved in the European Union’s (EU) Galileo system after Britain left the trade bloc.

However, developing and launching a separate system could cost more than £5 billion ($6.2 billion). U.S. defense officials were also opposed to the creating of a rival to the Global Positioning System (GPS).

The Financial Times reports that the Satellite Applications Catapult has proposed installing navigation technology on future OneWeb satellites. Spacecraft manufacturing would be moved from Florida to Britain.

The navigation system based on low orbiting OneWeb satellites would serve as a supplement, not a rival, to the GPS satellites.

Bids for OneWeb are due on Friday. There is reported interest from groups in France and China.