ESA plans to build low-orbit navigation satellites

(ORDO NEWS) — The ESA Navigation Authority is planning a demonstration of the new LEO-PNT satellites, which will be in low orbit.

LEO-PNT will use a new layered system-of-systems satellite navigation approach to provide more reliable and affordable positioning, navigation and synchronization services.

Due to the shorter distance to Earth, the signals from the LEO-PNT satellites will be more powerful, able to overcome interference and reach hard-to-reach places.

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) have already transformed our society, and their influence continues to grow.

In 2021, the number of satellite navigation receivers reached 6.5 billion worldwide and the sector is projected to grow by 10% annually in the coming years.

But in many ways, the standard GNSS approach is approaching the limits of optimal performance, so further improvements are needed for further development.

ESA’s plan is to build and launch an initial mini-constellation of half a dozen satellites to test capabilities and key technologies, and to demonstrate signals and frequency bands.

These satellites will pave the way for the subsequent LEO-PNT operational constellation.

“Each individual satellite will be relatively small, weighing less than 70 kg, compared to current Galileo satellites weighing 700 kg,” said Roberto Prieto-Cerdeira, ESA’s FutureNAV LEO-PNT project preparation manager.

Instead of atomic clocks, satellites will be able to use other means to calculate the exact time, including relayed signals from the Galileo satellites. LEO-PNT will also be built on a fast mass production basis to save time and costs.

ESA believes that it will take them a maximum of three years from the moment the contracts are signed to the launch of the first satellites into orbit.

“ESA’s goal is to ensure that Europe supports a world-class space industry, and navigation is today the largest space sector, valued at around 150 billion euros annually and growing at a rate of 10% per year,” comments Javier Benedicto, ESA’s director of navigation. Ruiz.


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