The European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of the European Space Agency (ESA) hosted last 17-18 January in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, an Industry Days workshop on the ESA’s NAVISP satellite navigation programme.
The event was attended by nearly a hundred representatives from the European space industry along with delegates from ESA’s participating member-states, the European Commission and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Supervisory Authority (GSA). The workshop was organised by the ESA’s various programme departments and primarily focused on two objectives:
i) to present the state of the art of major projects/activities in the respective areas;
ii) to obtain feedback from sector players regarding what is planned for implementation at the end-of-year ESA ministerial meeting.
The current status of the European satellite navigation system (GALILEO) was noted; it has 20 satellites in orbit and has shown outstanding performance. Procurement for the second generation is now under way. The fact that position, navigation and timing (PNT) is now one of the most indispensable technologies in the world was stressed, indicating that according to some studies 10 percent of the economy depends on PNT.
Some interesting data regarding satellite navigation was mentioned: the analysis of market segmentation based on location-based services (LBS) – currently accounting for 43.4 percent; road infrastructures – 50 percent; and those designated under ‘other’ – 6.6 percent (agriculture, timing, aviation, etc). Major vulnerabilities affecting GNSS systems that were referred to include spoofing, interference, jamming, meaconing and cyberattacks, among others.
It was highlighted that because PNT is ubiquitous, it is an indispensable instrument in the ongoing digital transformation. In this regard, and according to ESA officials, for the ESA to properly play its role as a galvaniser of major research and development projects, it is necessary for the member-states to achieve a doubling of investment at the next ESA ministerial meeting (i.e. from 20 million euros to 40 million euros).
Also presented were relevant projects in the area of satellite navigation; the ESA officials consider that the ideas put forward are not just innovative but above all inspirational.