SpaceFund invests in the navigation system for cislunar space

SpaceFund invests in the navigation system for cislunar space

Venture Investment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — SpaceFund, a venture capital firm, stated on Nov. 3 that it will fund the development of autonomous navigation technology. This will be utilized for space missions in cislunar space, which is beyond Earth’s orbit.

Rhea Space Activity (RSA), a startup that just obtained a contract from the US Air Force for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), is working on the navigation module. It will create a software tool for tracking satellites’ paths in cislunar orbit.

According to Meagan Crawford, co-founder and managing partner of SpaceFund, navigation is a critical technology for accessing and operating in cislunar space. “We believe in autonomy and ability for these spaceships to know their position in the future of space and the space traffic management.” Furthermore, it will assist in making real-time decisions without the involvement of a human.

Dependency and Accuracy

Satellites orbiting the Earth rely on the Global Positioning System constellation to determine their location and navigate to their destination. Because there is no equivalent navigation system beyond Earth’s orbit, spacecraft in cislunar space may find it challenging to determine their precise location.

RSA’s technology, according to Crawford, has both commercial and military applications, making it appealing to investors.

She stated, “We look at cislunar as the strategic high ground.” “I believe it’s quite clear that America needs to maintain possession of that strategic high ground for commerce to thrive.”

According to RSA founder Shawn Usman, a spacecraft in cislunar space today must execute two-way ranging with a ground station on Earth to determine its location. “In complex, ever-changing gravitational situations, this is an expensive operation that must be calculated.”

According to Usman, the company’s navigation system is named Jervis Autonomous Module (JAM) and is meant to work without GPS or ground-based ranging. Major Thomas Best Jervis, an engineer who oversaw the formation of the United Kingdom Department of Topography and Statistics in 1855, was honored with the module’s name.

“Satellites integrated with JAM can be executed autonomously for months in a radio-silent style in a space region that is a present not monitored,” said Usman.

Plans by RSA

The module will be available as a commercial product, and RSA hopes to use it on its cislunar surveillance satellite, JERVIS-1, which is scheduled to launch in 2024. This mission, a 12U cubesat expected to cost around $20 million including launch, will be aided by SpaceFund.

According to Usman, the JAM module will use optical sensors to look at geostationary satellites, for example, and will be able to compute its position in orbit based on the position of those geostationary satellites. “Once it has watched a certain number of geostationary satellites, it hires specific types of triangulation techniques to understand its position in orbit.” And that is extremely innovative and an elegant solution that does not need communicating back with the Earth.”

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