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Lockheed Martin invests in Xona’s commercial navigation constellation

August 9, 2022  - By

Xona Space Systems, a company developing navigation technologies from low-Earth orbit (LEO), has received investment backing from numerous companies, including Lockheed Martin. Its latest financing round was oversubscribed, bringing the start-up’s total funding to more than $25 million.

Xona is developing a high-performance commercial satellite navigation network, named Pulsar. Pulsar is a LEO system designed to provide resilient and trusted centimeter-level position anywhere on the globe.

Within the past year, Xona more than doubled its number of full-time employees, launched its first orbital mission, and signed agreements with major players across the GPS/GNSS ecosystem such as Hexagon | NovAtel and Spirent Federal.

Image: Xona Space Systems

Image: Xona Space Systems

The funding round was led by First Spark Ventures, who is joined by numerous new investors including Lockheed Martin Ventures, SRI Ventures (of SRI International), Velvet Sea Ventures, Gaingels, Airstream Venture Partners and Space VC. Existing investors also continue to show firm conviction in Xona’s accomplishments and market opportunity with participation from Seraphim Space, Toyota Ventures, 1517 Fund, MaC Venture Capital and Stellar Ventures.

The new capital will accelerate development of Pulsar through several critical design milestones by expanding the team and building out Xona’s new R&D and manufacturing facility in Burlingame, California. This will enable more rapid design cycles and prepare for production.

Xona’s first demonstration mission, Huginn, was successfully launched in May, and its second mission, Muninn, is planned to launch in 2023.

Xona Engineer Nick Manglaviti setting up hardware-in-the-loop testing at Xona’s R&D lab in San Mateo, California. (Photo: Xona Space Systems)

Xona Engineer Nick Manglaviti setting up hardware-in-the-loop testing at Xona’s R&D lab in San Mateo, California. (Photo: Xona Space Systems)

“Xona’s approach to GNSS is poised to enable a whole new class of robust and reliable solutions in everything from automotive to drones,” said Manish Kothari, managing director of First Spark. “This is a technically challenging problem — a problem the Xona team is uniquely qualified and experienced to address. We are very excited to be part of this journey with them.”

Xona’s core mission is to enable modern technology to operate safely in any environment, anywhere on Earth. To achieve this in industries such as automotive autonomy, drones and aerial mobility, precise knowledge of location and time is critical, and it must be robust against sources of potential interference or degradation. This is driving a need for global infrastructure that can support the demands of these applications as they continue to expand in both capability and geography.

“The massive domain expertise of our supporters in everything from scaling global companies to deep technical knowledge of GNSS is both a validation of our team’s capabilities and a catalyst that has been instrumental in our growth and speed,” said Xona CEO Brian Manning.

“As customer needs evolve, Lockheed Martin Ventures continues to work with companies we believe are on the forefront of emerging technology and that support increasingly resilient, hybrid systems,” said Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. “We invested in Xona so they can continue to develop and build their commercial system to complement the greater GNSS architecture.”

“The world would look very different today without GPS,” said Xona CTO Tyler Reid. “The ubiquitous robust precision that Pulsar can provide has potential to make the same level of global impact, not only in present and emerging markets, but we believe this global high precision can also enable entirely new devices and apps that we haven’t even thought of yet.”

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the 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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