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GMV to lead deployment of ESA’s constellation of 5 LEO satellites for Positioning, Navigation and Timing

The aim of this mission is to demonstrate services and develop key technologies of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) by launching a small constellation of 5 satellites

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

It will open up a new way of using low orbit satellites in key markets and applications

With this new contract, the multinational consolidates its position as a leading player of the European space industry.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a 78,4-million-euro contract to multinational technology company 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.

Alén Space, now part of GMV’s group since mid-2023 will provide the first technology demonstrator Cubesat platforms as well as important payload components. Alén Space will also bring to the project its key expertise in new space methodologies, considered essential for the LEO-PNT mission.

Beyond Gravity, a leading independent space equipment supplier to satellite and payload primes and launcher operators, will play a key role in the development of the PNT payloads onboard the satellites.

With a strong expertise in GNSS applications in various markets, Indra will also play a key role in the project coordinating the experimentation and validation campaign that aims at demonstrating the benefits of LEO satellites for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) for end-users’ services.

The team is completed with 14 end-user representatives and key stakeholders from different parts of the LEO-PNT value chain and with presence in key potential LEO-PNT markets such as road, rail, maritime, navigation at high latitudes and in inland waterways, indoor positioning, fishing, precise timing, IoT/asset-tracking, critical infrastructures, location-based services and 5G/6G industries.

With the LEO PNT in-orbit demonstrator (IOD), GMV is ushering in a new era that will open the door to a new generation of navigation systems. Leading a space mission from start to finish is a major commitment for GMV and represents the next logical step in consolidating the company’s position as a leading player in the European aerospace industry.

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