ESA Awards Contract for Network-Assisted PNT Assurance, Involving Iridium - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

ESA Awards Contract for Network-Assisted PNT Assurance, Involving Iridium

Telespazio UK, a subsidiary of Telespazio of France and Italy, received a development contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) for a Next Generation Network Assisted Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Assurance (NG-NAPA) project.

As part of the ESA’s Navigation Innovation and Support Programme (NAVISP) to develop novel positioning technologies, NG-NAPA will design and develop a proof-of-concept demonstrator of a PNT assurance system to protect against malicious threats to GNSS: it will provide PNT assurance through reference-assisted GNSS and signals of opportunity (SOOP) or SOOP-only PNT.

The reference network capabilities of the NG-NAPA will be enhanced by the Iridium LEO Communications system, 5G cellular phone signals and GNSS encrypted signals as potential SOOP to contribute to PNT assurance.

The SOOP will complement GNSS positioning to provide assurance to PNT users, especially when GNSS open services are disrupted. The system concept is adaptable for deployment at user terminals; moreover, it is suitable for both static and dynamic operation. NG-NAPA will be effective against malicious threats such as GNSS signal spoofing and its design flexibility will ensure that other SOOP signals can be incorporated in the future.

PNT assurance against malicious threats like spoofing relies on four main enablers: Authenticity of the information used for computing the position (e.g. clock and ephemeris data of GNSS satellites), authenticity of the ranging signals, assurance of the User Equipment (UE) time offset to a reference system time and integrity.
The objective of this activity is to design and develop a Proof-of-Concept demonstrator of a PNT assurance system to protect against malicious threat, using the proposed Next Generation Network Assisted PNT Assurance (NG-NAPA) concept. The activity aims to provide PNT assurance via reference-assisted GNSS and Signals Of Opportunity (SOOP) and / or SOOP-only PNT.

The reference network capabilities of the system will be enhanced by Iridium, LTE/5G and GNSS encrypted signals, as potential SOOP, to assist in PNT assurance. These SOOP would then complement or possibly replace GNSS positioning in order to provide assurances to PNT users, especially when GNSS open services are disturbed. The proposed system concept is flexible for deployment at user terminals and suitable for both static and dynamic use cases.

Telespazio UK is the prime contractor to ESA for the project (valued at €700,000) and will be working with a consortium consisting of Thales Services Numériques (France), M3 Systems Belgium (Belgium), and Chronos Technology Ltd (UK).

Mark Hewer, CEO of Telespazio UK said: “This is a great opportunity for us to be part of this important ESA project which will build on the work that has already been done within the PNT arena. We are pleased to be leading such a strong team and look forward to developing a proof of concept that will help protect against malicious threats to GNSS systems, which will make a difference to our daily lives.”