ESA focuses on PNT vs GNSS, wants proposals

June 18, 2019  - By
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Logo: ESA

OK, perhaps the headline is a tad misleading. But in addition to its natural preoccupation with Galileo, the European Space Agency (ESA) has begun thinking and talking about PNT as a service and user needs. In 2018, the European Commission issued a memo saying that GNSS alone was not sufficient for many critical and fail-safe operations.

ESA is now seriously considering how Galileo and other systems can provide users the PNT services and resilience they need, regardless of whether the signals come from space.

They have also issued a permanent Request for Proposals in this area. From their website:

The goal is to maintain and improve the capability and competitiveness of the industry of the participating States in the global market for Satellite Navigation, and more broadly PNT technologies and services. In this context, the wider ambition towards the overall PNT sector is justified by the necessity to facilitate cross-fertilisation between space-based and terrestrial positioning technologies.

This programmatic action will ensure the readiness of the industry to effectively respond to emerging market opportunities by focusing its activities on products ready for the commercial or institutional market.

The development of ad hoc technologies and product development activities along the whole Satellite Navigation value chain and more broadly PNT products can be proposed by industry to develop products aligned with their plans for future exploitation.

Activities therefore shall have been identified by industry as having clear potential for being applied in the area of PNT. The activities may address completely new products of a disruptive nature, may be an upgrading or improvement of an existing product or may address a continuation of an activity funded in another framework within another European institutional programme, a national programme or an industrial/academic research programme. The activities shall aim at resulting in a product ready for commercial exploitation.

Implemented through a continuous open call capable of stimulating unsolicited proposals, the eligibility of which will be indicated by the relevant participating State (i.e. support letter). The pre-commercial nature of this programme element will call for a co-funding approach to be envisaged.

Proposals must be from companies in the EU states of AT, CA, CH, CZ, DK, ES, FR, FI, UK, IT, IE, NO, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE and DE.

Proposers must first establish a ESA-STAR/EMITS username and password. More information can be found here.


Dana A. Goward is the president of the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, and is a regular contributor to GPS World.

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Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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