Thales Alenia Space was chosen by ESA to study the future Lunar Radionavigation System. The joint venture Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) announced that they have been selected by the European Space Agency to study fundamental techniques, models and algorithms to facilitate a future Lunar Radionavigation System. This contract, Tas explains, it is part of ESA’s Moonlight initiative, which aims to deliver reliable communications and navigation services to support the next generation of institutional and private lunar exploration missions. Thales Alenia Space recalls that the exploration of the Moon is “a strategic priority in the exploration of space, both for the ESA and for the industries and will make possible future manned missions to Mars”.
This contract, particularly, “concerns the definition of the concepts of orbit determination and time synchronization, of the lunar frames of reference (selenodetic and temporal) and signal modulation techniques for unidirectional and bidirectional services applicable to future lunar radionavigation communications. Orbit determination and time synchronization are key factors in providing accurate positioning and time synchronization for future lunar users, “explains Tas.
In recent years, the scientific community has been involved in several studies on the lunar navigation system and, in particular, on different algorithms of orbit determination and time synchronization. Some of these algorithms have been used in terrestrial applications, but additional models and technological constraints will have to be taken into account for the lunar environment. This is the challenge that Thales Alenia Space will face, in partnership with Telespazio, joint venture Leonardo (67%) e Thales (33%), the French National Center for Space Studies – CNES (Office of Space Geodesy) and the Polytechnic of Turin.
This study is complementary to the ongoing activities of Phase A / B1 which will study the feasibility and definition of a future Lunar Radionavigation System and is part of the project concerning communication and navigation services, with a contract led by Telespazio. Thales Alenia Space together with Telespazio is responsible for the definition and design of the entire system, as well as the design of the space segment (elements in orbit around the Moon) and the lunar segment (elements on the surface of the Moon). The synergy established with Telespazio will guarantee the optimization of the solution.