May 17, 2021: The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected SpacePNT to develop an advanced spaceborne GPS/GALILEO receiver to demonstrate for the first time, onboard the ESA-SSTL Lunar Pathfinder Spacecraft in orbit around the Moon, the use of terrestrial satellite navigation signals (i.e., GALILEO, GPS) for the purpose of real-time and autonomous orbit determination and Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT). The contract includes the development, qualification, and delivery of one proto-flight model (PFM) and two engineering models of NAVIMOON receiver, SpacePNT’s very high sensitivity version of its NAVILEO high performance GNSS spaceborne receiver.
The NAVIMOON receiver implements very high sensitivity algorithms able to receive and process signals extremely attenuated coming from the spillover around the Earth of the signals transmitted by satellite navigation (SatNav) systems (GALILEO, GPS). Furthermore, it combines these signals’ measurements with advanced on-board orbital forces filters to achieve directly onboard the spacecraft and in real-time an unprecedented target orbit determination accuracy of 100 m rms at Moon altitude, which is well below the typical accuracy that can be achieved today with terrestrial radio ranging that involve the use of costly deep space station ground infrastructures.
Given the high interest in Moon exploration and colonization (over 50 commercial and governmental missions have been announced between now and 2024), it is expected this NAVIMOON receiver technology will play a significant role in the next decade not only on Earth-Moon transfer orbits, but also to provide enhanced PNT services for the Moon users with the deployment of a lunar constellation that will allow the provision of lunar navigation in Moon-obstructed areas.
For this project, SpacePNT will partner with EECL from UK that will work as sub-contractor and will bring their significant space expertise for the electronics design, manufacturing, and qualification.