Alén Space will participate in the LEO-PNT mission of the European Space Agency 

April 11, 2024

LEO-PNT Mission

The groundbreaking LEO-PNT mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) is already underway. Alén Space will be one of the key partners in the consortium of companies that will design and deploy the project, led by the technological multinational GMV, to which the Spanish company has belonged since the middle of last year. 

The aim of this mission is to develop key technologies and demonstrate the benefits of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites in positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services. The program includes the development and launch of a constellation consisting of five satellites

Among the main members of the consortium are OHB System AG, Beyond Gravity, and Indra. Additionally, 14 representatives of end users and stakeholders from the LEO-PNT value chain are participating, with a presence in potential markets such as roads, railways, maritime, fishing, IoT for asset tracking, critical infrastructure, or indoor positioning. 

Platforms and Payload Components 

Alén Space will provide the initial platforms for CubeSat technology demonstration and collaborate with Beyond Gravity in manufacturing components of the payloads of the satellites that make up the constellation. The company based in Nigrán (Spain) will also contribute its expertise in new key space methodologies for the mission. 

This groundbreaking project, awarded to GMV for 78.4 million euros, will mark a before and after in the space industry. LEO-PNT will usher in a new generation of satellite-based navigation systems in key markets and applications, providing greater resilience, robustness, and signal accuracy compared to the traditional method in medium Earth orbit. 

The LEO-PNT mission includes the deployment of five satellites into orbit, the first of which will be launched within 20 months from the start of the project. This will act as a technology demonstrator based on a 12U CubeSat architecture. The constellation will be completed in 2027 with the launch of the remaining four satellites. 

Complementary to Galileo and GPS 

This contract, to be carried out under the coordination of GMV, includes the design and development of satellites and payloads, the acquisition of launch services, the provision of a ground segment as a service (GSaaS), the development of a test user receiver, system operations, and experimentation and demonstration of LEO-PNT services with end users. 

The LEO-PNT satellites developed in this project will transmit new signals in UHF, L, S, and C bands that will complement those currently transmitted by navigation satellites such as Galileo and GPS. It will also demonstrate an innovative function called “LEO shield,” capable of assessing the integrity of GNSS signals received on board LEO satellites in real-time and alerting users in case of malfunction.

Image source: ESA