SSTL to study Lunar Communication and Navigation Services

(20 May 2021) Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to lead a Phase A/B1 Study under ESA's Moonlight initiative that will shape the service provision and infrastructure to provide sustainable commercial Lunar data-relay services for communication and navigation around the Moon.

The Moonlight Phase A/B1 Study will define the service infrastructure and clearly lay out the development path for a constellation of Lunar communication and navigation satellites. The Study will characterise the complete end to end system, including the Lunar Space Segment, the Moon Surface Segment, the Lunar User Segment and the Earth Ground Segment.

A constellation of interconnected Lunar orbiters will enable surface missions operating on the far side of the Moon, without direct to Earth line of sight, to keep constant contact with Earth. It will also provide Lunar navigation signals to support critical mission phases such as precision landing of scientific equipment and the operation of rovers.

SSTL Lunar will lead the consortium of experienced European space companies which will bring wide ranging skills and capability to all aspects of the study. On the telecom and service operations side, the consortium is expected to include SES's subsidiary SES Techcom and Airbus who will bring connectivity service and operations experience, while capitalising on SSTL Lunar's offering of Lunar Communication services with Lunar Pathfinder.

On the navigation side, GMV-NSL, UK subsidiary of the GMV group, will, in collaboration with SSTL, look after the end-to-end navigation system. The telecommunication payload will be under the responsibility of telecom satellites manufacturer Airbus, while the overall system work for both communication and navigation aspects will be handled by SSTL Lunar. Norwegian ground station service provider, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), will be looking at Earth Ground Segment solutions, in collaboration with UK Goonhilly Earth Station.

Reference: SSTL PR

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