ESA seeks funding for navigation technology programs at ministerial

WASHINGTON — The European Area Company is requesting a number of hundred million euros at its upcoming ministerial council assembly for brand spanking new satellite tv for pc navigation applied sciences from low Earth orbit to the moon.

In a Nov. 9 briefing, ESA officers stated they’re proposing about 500 million euros ($518 million) over the subsequent three years for tasks to develop superior applied sciences past its work supporting the European Union-led Galileo system that may each improve current providers for terrestrial customers and increase them to help lunar exploration.

“This fast-growing market has raised the expectations of customers in all domains,” stated Javier Benedicto, ESA’s director of navigation, requiring enhancements in resilience and accuracy. “On the subsequent council on the ministerial stage in November, ESA will work in direction of reinforcing the long run capabilities of satellite tv for pc navigation.”

One initiative, known as FutureNAV, will help growth of two missions to advance satellite tv for pc navigation applied sciences. One, GENESIS, will mix 4 totally different measurement strategies on a single satellite tv for pc to enhance the worldwide terrestrial reference body used for each navigation and Earth science functions.

The opposite, LEO-PNT, would check a possible future satellite tv for pc navigation constellation in low Earth orbit by way of an illustration involving 6 to 12 smallsats. Working from LEO, Benedicto stated, would permit for stronger alerts and higher resistance to jamming, doubtlessly utilizing different frequency bands. “By bringing satellite tv for pc navigation nearer to the Earth, LEO-PNT has the potential to make satellites cheaper and extra environment friendly, and launches extra economical.”

The objective of LEO-PNT, ESA officers stated on the briefing, is a “quick monitor” program that may launch the smallsats in 2026 to show the potential capabilities of such a constellation. That will help future planning for the event of a LEO navigation constellation, together with whether or not it could use standalone satellites or hosted payloads, doubtlessly as a part of a broadband constellation.

“We see sooner or later a progress, an evolution, within the structure of satellite tv for pc navigation methods,” he stated, with present constellations like Galileo in medium Earth orbit serving as a “spine” complemented by LEO methods. “The aim of the in-orbit demonstration, this system we keep in mind, is to check this in orbit and show to ourselves the added worth of these new applied sciences earlier than we take a programmatic resolution concerning the future evolution of this total structure.”

A 3rd mission is Moonlight, a joint effort of ESA’s exploration, telecommunications and navigation directorates. Moonlight will develop communications and navigation providers on and across the moon to help ESA and companion missions there, beginning with an illustration mission known as Lunar Pathfinder being developed by Surrey Satellite tv for pc Know-how Ltd. (SSTL) for launch in 2025.

ESA is wrapping up the first phase of Moonlight, the place it awarded research contracts in 2021 to 2 consortia, one led by SSTL and the opposite by Telespazio. If funded on the ministerial, ESA is ready instantly afterwards to concern a request for proposals for a second section to start growth of Moonlight, with a objective of creating a variety in April 2023.

Benedicto stated ESA will search 100 to 150 million euros for Moonlight on the ministerial council assembly, which takes place Nov. 22-23 in Paris. “It’s a mission that may be very scalable, and we are going to accommodate the scope of the mission as a operate of the price range that’s offered by our member states.”

He stated ESA is requesting 80 million euros for GENESIS and 100 million for LEO-PNT, in addition to 120 million for its Navigation Innovation and Assist Programme, or NAVISP, to help work on applied sciences and providers enabled by satellite tv for pc navigation, resembling autonomous driving.

These efforts are complementary, Benedicto stated, to the work funded by the European Fee for the Galileo satellite tv for pc navigation system. “Now we have an settlement whereby we’ve got a transparent distribution of roles and obligations,” he stated, with ESA chargeable for growing Galileo satellites and the EGNOS augmentation service, that are then operated by the European Union Company for the Area Programme (EUSPA).

That features work by ESA constructing first- and second-generation Galileo satellites, though launches of these satellites are on maintain with the lack of the Soyuz car after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and delays within the introduction of the Ariane 6. He stated there isn’t any pressing have to launch further satellites given the well being of the present constellation, though it could be useful so as to add to the constellation’s in-orbit spares.

“We’re, for the time being, discussing with the European Union the likelihood to determine further launch providers, if mandatory, for the timeframe of the tip of 2023, starting of 2024, in case there could be the necessity to launch urgently further satellites to ensure the continuity of the constellation,” Benedicto stated. He later stated that included “intense discussions” with launch corporations apart from Arianespace, though he didn’t disclose particular suppliers.

Ove the long term, he stated, ESA would use the Ariane 6, whose first launch is at the moment scheduled for no sooner than the fourth quarter of 2023. “Ariane 6 stays our workhorse. It’s our baseline for deployment of the Galileo constellation sooner or later.”

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