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Apparently, the UK government wants to convert the OneWeb satellites into its own UK SatNav system, following Brexit which limits the UK's access to Galileo's Public Regulated Service [reports from the BBC and theRegister].

While, some reports are less and some are skeptical on the technical viability, I haven't seen any reports detailing how one might convert a communications satellite into a SatNav satellite. After all, the satellites involved in the GPS or Galileo systems carry atomic clocks and other special equipment.

So, how would one cobble together a SatNav system from comms satellites already in orbit?

What features implemented in comms satellites can be exploited for determining the location of a ground receiver?

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  • $\begingroup$ interesting news! related (and currently no accepted answer): How might excluding the UK from Galileo set the European programme back years and cost the EU billions? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 3 '20 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I think you have to bear in mind the possibility that this is just a mistake. Note this comment is not intended to be making a political point. I can imagine that one might be able to make use of low-precision clocks on a large number satellites to produce a high-accuracy position but, well that would not be anything like GPS: you'd need completely new silicon for the device on the ground for instance. I think it is more likely that they've just made a mistake. $\endgroup$
    – user21103
    Jul 3 '20 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ See this (PDF). which may be part of the answer. $\endgroup$
    – user21103
    Jul 3 '20 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @tfb thank you for the PDF. So, there may be means to to SatNav from LEO. However, it does not suggest that the OneWeb constellation currently in orbit could be used right away. $\endgroup$
    – Dohn Joe
    Jul 3 '20 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ No, I think that is correct. But OneWeb have only launched a small number of the satellites they planned to launch: it's possible that the unlaunched ones can be repurposed. I believe that this may be hard-to-impossible and you would still need new silicon for the receivers as the frequencies are completely different. As I said I think this is almost certainly just a mistake. $\endgroup$
    – user21103
    Jul 3 '20 at 16:14

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