Blog Editor’s Note: Some buzz last week on this due to public comments made by the OneWeb CEO, Neil Masterson.
There are several ways OneWeb could be used for PNT. Future satellites could be modified for the purpose, future payloads could carry purpose-built satellites, and PNT could be inferred from the thousands of communications satellites forecast in the constellation. All are possibilities. All have costs and technical challenges.
Or, there could be no PNT functionality at all.
Here are a couple reports on Masterson’s comments:
|OneWeb may demonstrate a navigation payload later this year, CEO Neil Masterson said today at the Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum. OneWeb could offer a “real alternative” to Galileo with its second-generation satellites, which are scheduled to enter service in 2024, but may provide “good enough” precision navigation and timing (PNT) before that. The U.K. is seeking alternatives to Galileo’s secure navigation signal since it is no longer part of the European Union. After initially considering building its own PNT constellation, the U.K. announced plans last year to consider commercial alternatives including one proposed by OneWeb. Since PNT has become a cornerstone of economic and military activity, governments around the world are looking for ways to augment or reinforce PNT services. The U.S. government identified “suitable, mature and commercially available technologies to backup or complement the timing services provided by GPS,” in a Transportation Department report released in January. Due to varied PNT use cases, however, no single PNT system can take the place of GPS. Instead, the report recommends adoption of “a diverse universe of positioning and navigation technologies.”|
… The size and application of OneWeb’s constellation has gone through fluctuation, and applications including Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) have been floated. In terms of the second generation, Masterson said he wants to hold off on making any decisions in order to hear more from OneWeb customers, and their needs will determine the specifications of the second generation.
“I really want to hear more from our customers about what they want, because that will determine the precise specifications of whatever we build. There are a number of directions we go, we can kind of more or less meet any use case. The question is — What are the use cases people actually want?”