Lockheed invests in Xona’s alternative GPS constellation

Lockheed invests in Xona’s alternative GPS constellation

Lockheed invests in Xona’s alternative GPS constellation

TAMPA, Florida — Startup Xona Space Systems has raised about $15 million for its proposed navigation constellation, including funds from the venture capital arm of GPS satellite maker Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin Ventures was among new investors joining a funding round announced by Xona on Aug. 3, led by early-stage investor First Spark Ventures.

Xona CEO Brian Manning declined to disclose the amount of funds guaranteed in the round, but said the startup has raised more than $25 million in total to date. In June, Xona put her total raise at $10 million.

Manning said the new round will help Xona double its staff to 60 employees before deploying Muninn, its second satellite prototype, early next year.

Huginn, the first prototype of California-based Xona’s proposed network of about 300 navigation cubesats, launched May 25 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 ride-sharing mission.

Manning said that “so far Huginn is progressing through the early stages of his mission and is performing as expected.”

He declined to disclose details about the tests, which are intended to show certain performance advantages his constellation would have over GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

According to Xona, its positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services can offer 10 times better accuracy than standard GNSS operating in a much lower orbit.

Manning said Xona also secured a lease on a new 7,600-square-meter manufacturing and research facility in Burlingame, Calif., near its base in San Mateo.

Muninn and Huginn were made in-house and Xona has not said whether it will outsource production of its operational Pulsar satellites, which the startup hopes to start deploying in early 2025.

Lockheed is building a new generation of GPS satellites for the US Space Force that includes more advanced anti-jamming and geolocation capabilities.

In November, the US Space Force ordered three 3F GPS satellites from Lockheed for $737 million under a 2018 deal worth $7.2 billion for up to 22 spacecraft.

Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures, said the fund “invested in Xona so they can continue to develop and build their commercial system to complement the larger” GNSS architecture.

“As customer needs evolve, Lockheed Martin Ventures continues to work with companies that we believe are at the forefront of emerging technology and that support increasingly resilient hybrid systems,” Moran said in a statement.

Other new investors in Xona include SRI Ventures, Velvet Sea Ventures, Gaingels, Airstream Venture Partners and Space.VC.

Xona said existing investors also participated, including Seraphim Space, Toyota Ventures, 1517 Fund, MaC Venture Capital and Stellar Ventures.

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