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Following Russia threat, Locata and Ursanav partner for resilient PNT

Photo:Russia’s recent threat that it could blow up all the GPS satellites with its new anti-satellite technology (ASAT) should come as no shock to those following space-related events. In the past, China shot down one of its own low-Earth-orbit satellites (LEOS) using a medium-range ballistic missile, and the United States used a modified antiballistic missile to shoot down one of its own spy satellites.

Blowing up satellites, solar flares, ever-increasing hazards from “space junk” and thousands of new satellites in the launch queue all make space a congested and increasingly dangerous place.

Locata Corporation and Ursa Navigation Solutions Inc. (UrsaNav) have announced a technology partnership specifically aimed at providing resilient PNT (positioning, navigation and timing) solutions to national governmental and commercial interests globally. Combining Locata’s high-accuracy local-area and UrsaNav’s very wide-area PNT produces a potent solution that lessens any nations’ dependency on easily disrupted and increasingly vulnerable space-based signals.

Locata has for many years been delivering proven centimeter-level positioning and picosecond-level timing to demanding users including the U.S. Air Force, NASA and globally significant commercial partners. Professional users in demanding industries such as ports, mining, the military, aviation, automotive, logistics, indoor positioning and high-accuracy timing depend on Locata systems every day.

UrsaNav’s eLoran and LFPhoenix technologies provide nanosecond-level timing, meter-level positioning, and short-message-service-like data transmissions at distances often exceeding 1,000 miles over land and 1,800 miles over water. Its two-way low-frequency time and frequency transfer (TWLFTFT) service is embedded in the PNT signal, providing a wireless timing synchronization conduit between any set of transmission sites.

When UTC-synchronized time is injected into any transmission site (node), such as from USNO/NIST, NPL or BIPM, it can then be securely networked to every other node in view. UrsaNav’s patented encryption techniques can be applied to the entire signal or any component.

Combining these proven technologies enables development of national-level terrestrial positioning and timing systems that are resilient, sovereign-controlled, and flexible enough to meet both long haul backbone and local high-accuracy critical infrastructure needs, the companies said, adding that over-reliance on space can be mitigated with built-in failover capability and overlapping coverage.

Many publicly available reports show both Locata and UrsaNav technologies have been tested by the United States and the United Kingdom under extreme GPS jamming and spoofing conditions, and yet they continued to provide the PNT their users require.

The MarRINav Report — funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and researched over several years by eight top UK/EU bodies — recommended eLoran (UrsaNav) and Locata as terrestrial technologies for protection of UK shipping, ports and other key critical-infrastructure sectors.

The partners agree that a system-of-systems approach for resilient PNT must include a GNSS component, a fiber component, and a robust terrestrial wireless component that can be used to distribute solid PNT over nationally controlled radio frequencies.

The interlocking terrestrial capabilities developed by Locata and UrsaNav are unique in the PNT industry, are easily integrated with other PNT solutions, and can operate in standalone, interleaved, or layered modes — the very definition of a system-of-systems approach. Together, they can provide the core technology platform for purely national or cooperative international PNT services.

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