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GPS III SV-05 encapsulated ahead of June 17 launch

The fifth GPS III satellite was encapsulated within a SpaceX payload fairing on June 9 in preparation for its June 17 launch.

The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s Lockheed Martin-built GPS III Space Vehicle 05 satellite was encapsulated within a SpaceX payload fairing at Astrotech Space Operations Florida facility on June 9 in preparation for launch, scheduled for June 17 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The 15-minute launch window opens 12:09 p.m. EDT. If SpaceX provides a live feed to view the launch, it will be available here.

Encapsulation of the satellite within the payload fairing protects the satellite from the impact of dynamic pressure and aerodynamic heating during its harrowing journey through the earth’s atmosphere, and supports the ability to communicate with the satellite until separation from the launch vehicle on orbit.

“The GPS III program continues to make strides in modernizing the GPS constellation for the United States Space Force, maintaining the ‘gold standard’ for position, navigation and timing,” said Col. Edward Byrne, Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems division chief, “SV05 is not only the first-ever USSF satellite launched on a previously flown booster, but also is the 24th military-code (M-xode) satellite introduced to our constellation, the last needed to bring M-code to full operational capability.”

GPS III SV05 will join the current 31-satellite operational constellation to continue to provide the gold standard in positioning, navigation and timing services for more than four billion users worldwide.

The Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Space Force’s center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the development of advanced space and launch capability and systems, global positioning systems, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.

GPS III SV05 is encapsulated within a SpaceX payload fairing at Astrotech Space Operations Florida in preparation for its June 17 launch. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

GPS III SV05 is encapsulated within a SpaceX payload fairing at Astrotech Space Operations Florida in preparation for its June 17 launch. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

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NextNav goes public with Spartacus Acquisition Corp.

NextNav logoGPS company NextNav and Spartacus Acquisition Corp, a special-purpose acquisition company, has entered into a definitive merger agreement that will result in NextNav becoming a public company. The combined company will be named NextNav Inc. Its common stock and warrants will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “NN” and “NNW”, respectively.

Gross proceeds of up to $408 million from the business combination are expected to be used to fuel growth in its current businesses, continue to build NextNav’s next-generation GPS platform, expand products (one of which is already deployed in 4,400 cities), and to expand its land-based radio positioning and timing network.

The NextNav platform serves a $100 billion global total addressable market in public safety, E911, mass-market consumer apps, eVTOLs, UAVs and autonomous vehicles, internet of things (IoT), critical infrastructure and other sectors. Beyond its technology and intellectual property, NextNav owns a portfolio of nationwide spectrum licenses for 2.4 billion MHz-PoPs of 900 MHz spectrum.

Gary Parsons, former chairman of the board of Sirius XM Radio, has served as chairman of NextNav’s board of directors for the past 10 years and will continue in that role. Peter Aquino, chairman of the board and CEO of Spartacus, will also join the NextNav board upon closing of the business combination. Aquino has led several companies through fiber and wireless operations and network deployments, and the development of overlay technologies designed to drive new revenue streams.

NextNav will continue to be led by Ganesh Pattabiraman, the company’s co-founder, CEO and president. Pattabiraman, who started at Qualcomm, has experience in building scalable location technologies using terrestrial and satellite-based technologies,

In addition, the full NextNav management team — co-founder Arun Raghupathy, SVP of Engineering; Chris Gates, CFO; and David Knutson, SVP of Network Operations and Deployment — will continue to manage NextNav.

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Sony launches Airpeak S1, its first professional drone

Sony’s first professional drone is small, but can be equipped with alpha mirrorless camera

Sony Electronics Inc. has announced its first professional drone, the Airpeak S1. An introductory model in the new Airpeak line, the S1 is a small drone that can be equipped with Sony’s full-size mirrorless interchangeable-lens Alpha camera.

The new drone uses a proprietary motor, propeller, control system and sensing technology, allowing it to fly at extremely high speeds with stable wind resistance.

The Airpeak S1 features an advanced remote controller that can support the production of high-quality aerial images and freely control the aircraft. It also includes obstacle detection, automatic flight control via sensing and increased safety via cloud management of the aircraft and flight information.

“Sony is excited to launch our new drone business with the Airpeak S1,” said Yang Cheng, Vice President, Imaging Solutions, Sony Electronics Inc. “Combining an extremely compact size with some of Sony’s most advanced imaging, sensing, AI and robotics technologies, the S1 will allow content creators, storytellers and commercial professionals to capture that which they’ve never been able to capture before.”

Advanced flight performance

The new Airpeak S1 offers dynamic flying capabilities, including a maximum speed of 55mph (90km/h), a maximum angular velocity of 180°/s, and a maximum tilt angle of 55°.

Propulsion technology using a combination of key devices developed by Sony provides wind resistance in strong wind speeds up to 44.7 mph (20 m/s).

In addition to the lightweight, highly efficient, sturdy and responsive proprietary 17″ propeller and brushless motor, the Airpeak S1 is equipped with an electric speed controller (ESC) for optimal control of these components. A unique, high-performance flight control system integrates the propulsion device and all sensor information to ensure stable flight and high maneuverability, Sony stated.

Stable flight by sensing

Stereo cameras equipped with Sony’s image sensors are installed in five locations (front, back, left, right, bottom) of the aircraft. Sony’s vision-sensing processor, which processes camera data at high speed and with low power consumption, and proprietary algorithms are used to accurately estimate the aircraft’s spatial position and orientation in real time, enabling stable flight even in environments where it may be hindered, such as indoors or under bridges.

The Airpeak S1 is also equipped with a unique high-performance flight-control system that integrates all sensor information such as inertial measurement unit (IMU), direction, barometric pressure and infrared ranging to optimize the propulsion device.

The Airpeak S1 uses multi-directional sensors to enable its obstacle braking function. The front, rear, left and right stereo cameras and the infrared range-finding sensor mounted on the top recognize obstacles in the vicinity of the aircraft, allowing the aircraft to automatically decelerate and stop according to its behavior and the surrounding conditions.

Photo: Sony

Photo: Sony

Camera and lens variations

Users have the flexibility to choose the right Alpha system for their desired application to expand their filmmaking horizons. The Airpeak S1 is compatible with a wide range of camera bodies including:

  • Alpha 7S series and FX3 for high descriptive capability with suppressed noise
  • Alpha 7R series for ultra-high definition
  • Alpha 9 series and others for distortion-free images

The Alpha 1, which can shoot footage in 8K, is also compatible.

The drone includes Airpeak Flight, an iOS- and iPadOS-compatible application that integrates the aircraft, transmitter, camera and gimbal, allowing the operator to monitor status information such as flight distance and remaining battery power, and change various operations and settings on the screen.

Airpeak S1 also includes a dual-operation mode so that one user can operate the drone while another user can operate the gimbal and camera simultaneously while checking the same image, even in complicated scenes. The first-person view camera, which can be tilt-operated from the remote controller, is mounted on the nose of the aircraft and is useful for the operator to check the direction of the aircraft and the direction of travel.

Photo: Sony

Photo: Sony

Airspeak Base

The new drone includes “Airpeak Base,” a web application that allows the operator to manage equipment, create flight plans, and manage flight logs. In the equipment management, information on the equipment used is automatically listed and managed based on the flight log. This allows the operator to check the condition of the aircraft before going to the field, minimizing on-set issues.

With Airpeak Base, the operator can create advanced flight plans and automatically fly the aircraft along the same course repeatedly, as if the drone were on rails installed in the air. It is able to set the position (latitude, longitude and altitude) and speed of the aircraft along the timeline, and specify the orientation of the gimbal and the timing of video or still image shooting. It can also draw smooth curves on the map. Reproduction flight is an automatic flight function that reproduces the flight route, gimbal, and camera movements based on the flight logs that have been flown in the past.

All aircraft information, including logs, can be uploaded to the cloud via the mobile app Airpeak Flight. Airpeak Base allows users to check the status of the aircraft and can provide notifications if necessary. Users can manage the status of all managed aircraft in one place before flight. Past flight logs can be viewed on the logbook screen, and details such as in-flight errors can also be reviewed.


Sony Group will be exhibiting Airpeak S1 at Japan Drone 2021, a drone exhibition to be held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan, June 14-16. In addition, Izumi Kawanishi, Senior Vice President, AI Robotics Business, Sony Group Corp. will provide the keynote speech on the morning of June 14.

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GMV awarded contract for Galileo HAS data generator

Image: EUSPA

Image: EUSPA

GMV has been awarded a contract for the implementation of the Galileo High Accuracy data generator (HADG), which will be the facility in charge of generating the high-accuracy corrections data to enable the provision of the Galileo High Accuracy Service (HAS).

The contract was awarded by the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA).

HADG will ensure the continuous provision of HAS data with a proper rate, accuracy, availability, continuity and latency. The data will encompass orbit and clock corrections, biases, quality indicators and service parameters.

The HADG contract addresses a key infrastructure development of the Galileo program. The Galileo HAS, together with the Open Service Authentication (OSNMA) and the Commercial Authentication Service (CAS), is one of Galileo’s stand-out services, setting it apart from GPS or GLONASS.

The HAS will be an open-access service based on the provision of high-accuracy corrections transmitted in the Galileo E6-B signal (E6, data component), at a rate of 448 bps per Galileo satellite connected to an uplink station. The data retrieved by the user from the different satellites offering the HAS will be reconstructed, allowing the user to achieve an improved positioning performance.

As the project’s leader, GMV will be responsible for core project activities such as the provision of the algorithms for the computation of the high-accuracy corrections, which rely on GMV’s MagicPPP software suite for precise point positioning. GMV is supported by SIDERTIA in the area of cybersecurity.

The specification , design  and development phases have already been completed, and the project is progressing toward qualification of the system that will enable the execution of the necessary validation activities prior to the HAS initial service declaration, which is expected in 2022.

GMV presented the first version of MagicGNSS in 2008.

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Håvard Tveite has passed away

It is with a heavy heart that we announce that on 2021-05-31, our friend and colleague Håvard Tveite has passed away at the age of 59 after a period of illness.

Håvard was a very active member of the QGIS community, providing valuable input to the documentation, developing numerous plugins, and taking care of the QGIS Resources Sharing Repository to name just a few of his contributions.   

Besides his contributions to the QGIS project, Håvard was also an active volunteer in the Norwegian Orienteering Federation and in the International Orienteering Federation Map Commission (more: https://orienteering.sport/norwegian-great-havard-tveite-has-passed-away/)

The QGIS community would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Håvard’s wife Ingrid and son Nils.  Håvard’s contributions to the QGIS Project will leave a lasting impact on the lives of many people around the world as they benefit from the work he has done on a daily basis.

R.I.P. Håvard

Nyhet från QGIS, orginal inlägg

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IMCA publishes guidelines on use of GNSS for tide calculations

Nick Hough, IMCA

Nick Hough, IMCA

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has published “Guidelines on the use of GNSS for tide calculations” (IMCA S 027). It provides an overview of how GNSS can assist in more accurate real-time direct measurement of tidal changes. IMCA S 027 is available for members to download free of charge, and costs £50 for non-members.

IMCA S 027 includes sections on

  • tide theory
  • geodetic reference systems and tidal datums
  • tides from GNSS
  • quality assurance and quality control
  • glossary, references and a list of further reading

One reference is the recently revised IMCA S 015, “Guidelines for GNSS positioning in the Oil and Gas industry,” produced with the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.

“As with horizontal positioning, vertical positioning is referenced to specified datums,” explained Nick Hough, IMCA’s technical adviser for Offshore Survey. “Unlike land surveying, where vertical measurements (elevations) are made from and to a known, fixed position, vertical measurements offshore (depths) are taken against a moving dynamic surface.”

“All absolute depths recorded from survey activities need to be adjusted for tide and reduced to a known constant vertical datum such as Mean Sea Level (MSL) or Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT),” Hough said. “The effect of tides will result in depth differences at different times of the day, and at the same times on different days.”

“Advances in GNSS technology enable accurate and consistent calculation of height above a known datum, which means reliance on tide gauges or tide prediction tables is no longer necessary,” Hough said.

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New HxGN Connect enables seamless, citywide collaboration

Hexagon AB has launched HxGN Connect, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) workspace for citywide collaboration enabling government agencies and other organizations to share data and coordinate action for ad-hoc, routine and emergency situations.

Hosted in Microsoft Azure, HxGN Connect provides a networked workspace and unified view of information within and between entities. Participants can actively collaborate and securely share data as events unfold, overcoming technical and political barriers that result in missed opportunities, conflicting actions, errors and delays.

With HxGN Connect, organizations can move beyond basic cooperation to true collaboration, where all participants gain mutual value. HxGN Connect is easily implemented and scaled — whether between multiple departments in a single agency or multiple organizations across cities and regions.

“The future of smart cities lies in connected data communities that enable users to work with people and information irrespective of organisational and geographical affiliations or technology limitations,” said Hexagon President and CEO Ola Rollén. “HxGN Connect reimagines collaboration, breaking down barriers and bridging gaps between vertical sectors, organizational types and operational functions, which means safer cities, more effective services and happier residents.”

HxGN Connect brings a city’s public safety, transportation, utilities and other related organizations together seamlessly. While users can visualize people, places and activities, and send messages and assign tasks to each other, all participants retain full ownership and control of their own data (nothing is stored in a central repository).

The HxGN Connect dashboard. (Screenshot: Hexagon AG)

The HxGN Connect dashboard. (Screenshot: Hexagon AG)

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UAV Navigation autopilot powers Power4Flight engines

UAV Nav logoUAV Navigation’s range of Vector-autopilots is now integrated with Power4Flight’s IntelliJect EFI, designed for use in small-engine aerospace applications.

Using the robust and extensive communication capabilities of UAV Navigation autopilots, the IntelliJect EFI’s engine control unit can communicate and deliver critical parameters through the CAN port. This way, the autopilot is able to automatically control and monitor the engine. The operator will be capable of controlling and receiving real-time status information from the engine in the UAV Navigation’s advanced ground-control station Visionair.

The IntelliJect EFI is highly configurable for a variety of engine types (two-stroke, four-stroke, triples, twins and singles), including Power4Flight’s engines or any other manufacturer engine.

Power4Flight propulsion systems and electronics are used in a wide range of unmanned aircraft systems. With this integration, the fuel injection systems of the American manufacturer will be able to send performance parameters, such as RPM, temperatures, pressures, throttle range and error to the autopilot, and receive commands.

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Commercial UAV Expo Europe delayed to January due to COVID-19

Commercial UAV Expo logoOrganizers of Commercial UAV Expo Europe have announced that the next edition of the event will take place with Amsterdam Drone Week (ADW) and EASA High Level Conference at RAI Amsterdam Convention Center, Jan. 18-20, 2022.

Previously, the events were scheduled to take place together in December 2021, but the organizers have decided — in close consultation with partners Amsterdam Drone Week and EASA — to delay the event until early 2022 due to the impact of COVID-19 on travel and the event industry.

The new date will offer partners, speakers, visitors and delegates more certainty to travel to Amsterdam and thus bring the worldwide UAM/UAS community together. Future editions will revert to the usual December time frame.

“The benefit of co-locating the three events is in bringing the whole drone ecosystem together in one place where professionals can learn, connect and drive the industry forward,” said Lee Corkhill, group event director at Diversified Communications, organizer of Commercial UAV Expo Europe.  “Commercial UAV Expo Europe is the leading international trade show and conference in Europe for the commercial drone market delivering sUAS manufacturers and end-users. Amsterdam Drone Week focuses on Urban Air Mobility and the role of cities. The EASA High Level Conference focuses on the stakeholders involved in UTM and regulatory issues.”

During ADW 2021, the EASA High Level Conference will take place on Jan. 18-19 and the Commercial UAV Expo Europe will be held on Jan. 19-20.

ADW will offer a hybrid option in January 2022, meaning content from the ADW mainstage will be broadcast daily, including matchmaking and online speed networking sessions.

In 2020, ADW organized a successful online event. “Although it was a great success given the circumstances, we prefer to see the fast-growing industry around drones and unmanned aircraft back in Amsterdam in person,” said Paul Riemens, CEO RAI Amsterdam. “Bringing people together is part of the DNA of RAI Amsterdam.”

“Innovative Air Mobility is an area of intense activity for EASA. We are steadily putting all the rules in place for these operations and working on certification for these entirely new types of aircraft,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “The High Level Conference at ADW is an important platform for discussions with a range of stakeholders on these developments.”

Commercial UAV Expo Europe, taking place as part of Amsterdam Drone Week along with the EASA High Level Conference, is a leading international trade fair and conference in Europe focusing on the integration and operation of commercial UAS. Industries covered include

  • Construction
  • Drone delivery
  • Energy and utilities
  • Forestry and agriculture
  • Infrastructure and transportation
  • Public safety and emergency services
  • Security
  • Surveying and mapping

The next edition will take place 18-20, 2022 at RAI Amsterdam.

Commercial UAV Expo Europe is presented by Commercial UAV News and organized by Diversified Communications, organizer of Commercial UAV Expo Americas, Geo Week, and Geo Business Show. For information about exhibiting at Commercial UAV Expo contact Katherine Dow, Sales Manager, at kdow@divcom.com or +1.207-842-5497. For attending information, visit www.expouav.com or email info@expouav.com.

EASA High Level Conference

The main theme of the EASA High Level Conference will be “UAM Becoming a Reality.” Main topics are:

  • Multi-Level Governance of Urban Skies
  • Integration of new entrants in Urban Airspace and overall U-space-ATM integration
  • Mobility Hubs: drone and eVTOL landing sites and vertiport.

The outcome of EASA Social Acceptance study and status of the implementation of the key findings will be discussed. There will be presentations and discussions on concrete implementation projects.

In addition, educational and technical sessions, workshops and roundtables will be held on, among others, the application of the guidelines related to design verification of UAS, technical requirements on vertiports, counter drones technology and U-Space implementation.

Amsterdam Drone Week

Amsterdam Drone Week is the global platform for sharing knowledge on current air solutions, potential innovations, and vital regulations. Creating valuable connections with all key players, knowledge institutes and authorities to co-create and cooperate to build the UAM ecosystem. Through live and virtual summits, expert sessions and matchmaking, ADW connects the entire UAM value chain around drone regulations, new technology and future solutions.

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Controversial GAO report on DOD nav webinar June 15

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On May 10, the General Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on navigation efforts n the Department of Defense (DOD). Among its findings were that the department regularly fails to establish validated navigation and timing requirements for systems and instead defaults to the capabilities of GPS. Also, that alternate positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) efforts are not prioritized, and sometimes actively opposed, by forces within DOD.

One of the report’s more startling recommendations is that the department change its focus from GPS as the central pillar of its PNT strategy going forward in favor of resilient technologies.

The Institute of Navigation (ION) and Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation (RNTF) are hosting a webinar to discuss the report with two of its authors on June 15 at 11 a.m. ET. Two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee staff have also been invited as panelists.

After a panel discussion moderated by Dana A. Goward, president of the RNT Foundation, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists.

The event is open to the public, but attendees must register in advance.