Image: Lockheed- Martin

Blog Editor’s Note: In-space alternatives to GPS/GNSS are proliferating. Trustpoint is surging forward, per the below article, and Xona is getting ready to put a demo satellite in orbit (full disclosure, Xona is an RNTF corporate member). Satelles is already offering time and location services. OneWeb is projecting PNT capability in its Phase 2, and folks are already inferring location from Starlink.

They all are successfully dealing with a combination of rocket science, advance physics requiring Einstein’s general and special theories of relativity, and very sophisticated clock and RF technology. So it is clear the engineering challenges can be overcome.

What is less clear is how successful the business cases will be. Low earth orbit allows for greater precision and higher power (more difficult to disrupt) signals,than is possible with GNSS at medium earth orbit. And new builds can overcome many challenges that have faced GNSS over the last 20 years with improved technology to encrypt, perhaps authenticate, and otherwise better protect signals. 

But will these advantages be enough to successfully compete with the combined power of free signals from four GNSS constellations?

It is certainly in the nation’s interest that one or more of these systems becomes viable. We wonder if and how the government will support this national interest. Or will it sit by and “let the market decide”?  This would include the potential outcome that the market is happy to continue relying on free GPS/GNSS and accepting the risk of the entire house of cards falling due to a coronal mass ejection or some other adverse space-based event. 

TrustPoint raises $2 million for GPS alternative

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SAN FRANCISCO – TrustPoint Inc., a startup developing a global navigation satellite system (GNSS), has raised $2 million in seed funding from venture capital firm DCVC.

With the funding announced Oct. 18, TrustPoint plans to expand its engineering team, continue developing core technologies, including satellite payload testing, and extend key partnerships.

Heavy global reliance on GPS, Europe’s Galileo, Russia’s Glonass and China’s Beidou for everything from communications and transaction timing to maritime and aircraft navigation is prompting companies and government agencies to look for backups and alternatives.

TrustPoint founders Patrick Shannon, a former Astro Digital vice president, and Chris DeMay, former Hawkeye 360 founder and chief technology officer, said GPS alternatives are necessary because the current system is inaccurate, slow, unencrypted, and susceptible to jamming and spoofing. What’s more, GNSS systems alone are not precise enough for many of the emerging commercial applications like drone delivery, self-driving cars, urban air transportation and augmented reality, Shannon and DeMay said.