Xona accelerates commercial LEO PNT service with AFRL and USSF investments

August 14, 2023  - By
Image: buradaki/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Image: buradaki/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Xona Space Systems has partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the U.S. Space Force under a $1.2 million Direct to Phase II SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) contract to work toward a secure low Earth orbit (LEO) positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) constellation leveraging Xona’s PULSAR service.

The contract was awarded through an AFWERX SBIR Open Topic, after Xona demonstrated its LEO PNT technology using the “Huginn” demo satellite in late 2022.

Xona is developing PULSAR – a high-performance PNT service enabled by a commercial constellation of dedicated LEO satellites.

The PULSAR service aims to advance PNT security, resilience and accuracy capabilities by augmenting existing GNSS while also operating as an independent PNT constellation.

“Our partnership with the AFRL Space Vehicles directorate and USSF’s Space Warfighting Analysis Center will give Xona the expertise necessary to seamlessly integrate PULSAR into the U.S. national security space architecture,” said Brian Manning, CEO, Xona Space Systems. “Early assessment of unique DOD PNT requirements will set us up for a successful transition to operational service.”

Colonel Jeremy Raley, commander of the Phillips Research Site and director of the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, said the investment will contribute to force design analytics that consider contributing signals from multiple orbit regimes.

“Lessons from this effort will pave the way for future defense programs to successfully utilize commercial space assets for flexible and diverse satnav that is resilient to the adversarial threat,” Raley said.

Preceding the award, Xona became the first company to launch a privately funded PNT mission progressing from concept to on-orbit in less than 12 months. Since then, Xona has partnered with major companies such as Hexagon | NovAtel, Septentrio, Spirent, Safran, and StarNav. In April 2023, the company moved into its new headquarters in Burlingame, California, where the company plans to start the production of PULSAR satellites.