Mar 2024 | No Comment

Call for Proposals operationally ready CPNT Services

The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a solicitation to obtain proposals from vendors with operationally ready complementary positioning, navigation and timing (CPNT) services to be used for testing and evaluation in the Rapid Phase of the DOT’s CPNT Action Plan.The Volpe Center is seeking proposals from industry professionals to deploy PNT services with a technical readiness level (TRL) of eight or higher.

The evaluation conditions will include situations where GPS/GNSS service is disrupted or manipulated, and CPNTspecific threat vectors are introduced. Proposals are encouraged to be tailored to critical infrastructure PNT user requirements with the expectation that Rapid Phase evaluation results will be shared with sector risk management agencies (SRMAs) through the Federal interagency process to drive CPNT adoption.

According to the Volpe Center, it is prepared to make multiple awards if multiple proposals meet the solicitation requirements.

GPS Rapid Prototype Demonstration Tranche 0

The U.S. Space Systems Command (SSC), part of the United States Space Force, is actively seeking insights from the GNSS industry through a Request for Information (RFI) regarding the development of a Global Positioning System (GPS) Rapid Prototype Demonstration, Tranche 0.

This initiative is part of a strategic effort to upgrade GPS capabilities to meet modern challenges in space navigation and ensure continued operational superiority. This RFI aims to collect information about the industry’s capacity to innovate and deliver solutions that can enhance the GPS infrastructure. The focus is on identifying technologies and approaches that can reduce the size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) of future GPS satellites, streamline their production and launch processes and improve compatibility with a variety of launch vehicles.

According to the SSC, the goal of Tranche 0 is to create a prototype satellite that can emit certain GPS signals that are compatible with existing user equipment. The operation of this prototype in mediumEarth orbit (MEO), approximately 20,000 km above Earth, aims to test and validate these innovations in a real-world setting. The SSC’s approach aims to encourage collaboration, inviting both established and emerging players in the industry to showcase their abilities in rapid development, fabrication, and integration of GPS payloads.

GMV defines late collision avoidance

GMV, as part of the consortium led by Astroscale UK, has been awarded with a new activity within the ESA’s CREAM (Collision Risk and Automated Mitigation) cornerstone, as an extension to the CREAM#2 activity, to advance in an alternative commanding path for late collision avoidance manoeuvres (CAM) making use of the Galileo Return Link Service.

The increasing space traffic congestion in low earth orbits has also increased the number of collision avoidance manoeuvres. They represent a very relevant cost in terms of operations effort and propellant, reducing the operational lifetime, and affecting the nominal mission of the satellite. As a result, satellite operators wait as long as possible to command the avoidance manoeuvre in order to reassess the risk and to avoid unnecessary ones. This commanding requires communication with the satellite, which is typically only available few times per day in LEO, when the satellite passes over the ground stations. This represents an important limitation for the satellite operator which can only wait until few hours before the encounter using the last passes available. The new developments proposed target to mitigate this limitation by providing alternative late commanding paths to trigger the manoeuvre much closer to the conjunction, allowing a net reduction on the number of collision manoeuvres required, and therefore, reducing the propellant consumption and increasing the operational lifetime of the satellites.

This is achieved by using of the Galileo Signal-in-Space (SiS) and its Return Link Service as an alternative continuous communication path to relay collision avoidance manoeuvre decisions to satellites mounting on-board Galileo compatible GNSS receivers.

FAA tells pilots to go analogue as GNSS ‘spoofing’ incidents increase

The Federal Aviation Administration is advising pilots to prepare to use conventional navigational aids to manage the risks of ‘spoofing’ attacks on global positioning systems and global navigation satellite systems.

Incidents of aircraft navigation systems disrupted by false data have become more frequent, causing pilots to veer dangerously off course. Though all pose a danger to aircraft, interference, jamming, and spoofing, differ in the extent of risk.

Interference and jamming prevent aircraft navigation systems from obtaining a reliable positioning signal. Spoofing sends false navigational data, sometimes corrupting critical flight systems and making them unusable.

In a recently published Safety Alert for Operators, the FAA advises civilian flight crews to monitor the performance of their equipment onboard, report any GPS/GNSS issues to air traffic controllers, and prepare to fly without digital satellite navigation systems before they take off.

Viasat demonstrates UK SBAS

Viasat, Inc. has demonstrated a UK satellite-based augmentation system (UK SBAS) for the first time, showing how highly accurate GPS data can maximize safety and improve efficiency. The test flight, flown from Cranfield Airport using the National Flying Laboratory Centre’s Saab 340B aircraft, showcased a UK-based SBAS that delivers more precise, reliable navigation data. The UK is no longer part of the EU’s similar European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), following its exit from the European Union. While EGNOS can still be used for nonsafety applications in the UK, the trial aims to provide a first step toward a complementary UK SBAS which can be used for critical safety of life navigation services across air, land, and sea.

UK SBAS works by combining ground monitoring data with satellite connectivity to provide more reliable navigational data. Across a range of applications, it can offer positioning down to a few centimeters of accuracy, rather than the few metres provided by standard GPS. For aviation, the system gives pilots greater trust in their onboard instruments, which has major implications when pilots may not be able to physically see a runway or other obstacles due to bad weather.

Galileo, now fit for aviation

Galileo, satellite navigation system, now meets international standards to guide civil aviation from take-off to landing, complementing Europe’s EGNOS for the most critical operations. Galileo was not designed to comply with these strict safety requirements, so how did engineers at ESA achieve this feat? This is a tale of engineering excellence.

In civil aviation, especially for critical stages such as final approaches, navigation systems need to be extremely reliable. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines the strict requirements that systems need to fulfil to be used in these so-called Safety-of-Life operations, where a malfunction of the system would lead to major human or environmental catastrophes. Galileo was never designed to comply with these rigorous integrity standards as Europe already had EGNOS, a dedicated Safety-of-Life system for navigation. EGNOS ‘augments’ GPS signals for critical operations in aviation, maritime navigation, agriculture and more. But in 2016, ESA joined forces with the European Commission (EC) and the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) to elevate Galileo’s reliability and make it fit for civil aviation, as a standalone support system during en route and augmented by EGNOS at take-off and landing.

BAE Systems completes design review for M-Code GPS receiver

BAE Systems’ program to design and manufacture an advanced military GPS receiver and next-generation semiconductor has completed Critical Design Review (CDR).

The Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) Increment 2 Miniature Serial Interface (MSI) program is part of a $247 million contract received in 2020 from the U.S. Space Force. The MSI includes a Next-Generation Application Specific Integrated Circuit (NG ASIC) which will provide enhanced security and performance of M-Code technology. It can also be easily transitioned into future BAE Systems M-Code GPS receivers.

Korea’s KASS now certified and operational

The Korea Augmentation Satellite System (KASS), designed and implemented by Thales Alenia Space, has been officially certified by Korean national authorities and has entered operational service. The system was developed in partnership with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) on behalf of the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT).

The project has received support from various international and European entities, including the European Commission, the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the French Space Agency (CNES).

KASS, operational via the MEASAT- 3d geostationary satellite launched in 2022, will soon be enhanced by the addition of KOREASAT 6A. It is currently under development by Thales Alenia Space for KT SAT Corporation, South Korea’s leading satellite communications operator.

The addition of KOREASAT 6A — equipped with a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) payload — aims to improve the system’s service continuity and operational availability.

Designed to meet international standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), KASS will initially prioritize aircraft applications and focus on Safety of Life services critical during flight phases, including landing.

This focus is intended to enhance flight safety and efficiency while minimizing the environmental impact of aviation. Additionally, KASS is designed to be interoperable with other SBAS satellite navigation systems worldwide to offer seamless flight safety across different zones.

Google Maps introduces enhanced navigation feature for tunnels

Google Maps has recently introduced a new feature designed to address the challenges users face while traversing tunnels.Android version of Google Maps can now utilise Bluetooth beacons to precisely track the user’s location in areas where conventional GPS signals often encounter limitations. This feature aligns with a capability already present in Waze, a navigation app also owned by Google, which employs Bluetooth signals from beacons to transmit location data to mobile devices. Google Maps then utilises this information, coupled with the device’s mobile connectivity, to offer real-time traffic data in scenarios where conventional GPS connections might falter.

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