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LEO-PNT Satellites’ Significance is Growing Rapidly

Professors Heidi Kuusniemi and Simona Lohan from the INCUBATE project participated in the Munich Satellite Navigation Summit held in Munich from March 20 to 22, 2024. One of the key themes of the event was LEO-PNT (low Earth orbit positioning, navigation, and timing) satellites, which aligns with the focus of the INCUBATE project.


Professors Simona Lohan and Heidi Kuusniemi at the Munich Satellite Navigation Summit.

The Munich Satellite Navigation Summit is a conference which deals with satellite navigation now and in the future. The convention of high-ranking worldwide speakers from industry, science and governments provides the participants with a broad overview and different perspectives on the latest developments in the field of GNSS.


Trending topics of this year’s convention were:

·         First and Second Generation of the European Satellite Navigation System Galileo

·         Status and Modernization of the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and of the Chinese BeiDou System

·         Regional Systems of India (IRNSS), Japan (QZSS), and Korea (KPS)

·         Synergies to Space Communications and Earth Observations

·         Discovering the Low-Earth Orbit for PNT: LEO-PNT and Beyond

·         Updates from the GNSS Receiver and Application Industry

·         Legal Aspects of Satellite Navigation

·         Commercial PNT and Challenges of the New Space Economy.


Both Simona Lohan and Heidi Kuusniemi took part in a panel discussion on future solutions for satellite navigation. Simona served as the panel chair, and Heidi was one of the panelists.


At a session of the Munich Satellite Navigation Summit.

Additionally, LEO-PNT has also gained prominence on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) list of important matters. ESA has told already before that they are planning for a small constellation of demonstration satellites that will fly close to Earth and test the use of novel signals and frequency bands, unlocking exceptional resilience, accuracy and speed in navigation that will enable a long list of new applications and services.


Last week, ESA announced that two parallel contracts of € 78.4 million each have been signed for two end-to-end low Earth orbit positioning, navigation and timing (LEO-PNT) in-orbit demonstrators. The contracts include the design and development of satellites and payloads, ground segment, test user segment and satellite launches, operations, experimentation and demonstration of services with end users. The first LEO-PNT satellite is planned to launch within 20 months from kick-off and the complete constellation to be in orbit before 2027.


GMV representants Teresa Gomes Ferreira and Manuel Toledo together with Simona Lohan and Heidi Kuusniemi.

One of the contracts for LEO-PNT demonstrator is led by GMV Aerospace and Defence S.A.U. (ES). Heidi Kuusniemi and Simona Lohan met with representatives from GMV, Teresa Gomes Ferreira and Manuel Toledo, at the Munich event. Both GMV representatives expressed interest in the LEO-PNT research work conducted in Finland and the discussions conducted will hopefully accelerate future collaboration with INCUBATE.

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