GMV to lead ESA’s LEO PNT End-to-End In-Orbit Demonstrator mission


The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a 78,4-million-euro contract to GMV to develop key technologies and demonstrate the benefits of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT).

Satellite navigation has traditionally relied on satellites at medium Earth orbit (MEO), but future navigation systems will adopt a multi-layer, system of systems architecture employing satellites at different orbital altitudes. Low Earth orbits can bring important benefits to users in terms of improved signal resiliency, robustness, and accuracy.

The signed contract includes the design and development of satellites and payloads, the procurement of launch services, the provision of a Ground-Segment-as-a-Service (GSaaS), the development of a test user receiver, system operations, as well as experimentation and demonstration of LEO-PNT services with end users.

A total of five satellites will be developed and placed into orbit. The first satellite, an initial technology demonstrator based on a 12U Cubesat architecture, will be launched within 20 months from kick-off to perform initial testing. Four additional small satellites will be launched to complete the demonstration constellation by 2027.

The LEO-PNT satellites developed in this contract will transmit new advanced signals in UHF, L, S and C band complementing the signals currently transmitted by navigation satellites such as Galileo and GPS. An innovative “LEO shield” integrity determination function, capable of assessing in real time the integrity of GNSS signals received onboard the LEO satellites and alert users in case of malfunctioning will be also demonstrated.

GMV will be responsible for the complete end-to-end space mission and will lead an industrial organization that includes OHB System AG, Alén Space, Beyond Gravity and Indra as core partners.

With a key role as space segment prime of the small satellites, OHB System AG will lead the development and manufacturing of 4 LEO satellites in Bremen, bringing to the project its key expertise in the production of 34 Galileo satellites.

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