It wasn’t that long ago that Global Positioning Systems (GPS) appeared, but they have quickly and forever changed our world. No military organization, no airline, and no individual could imagine life without GPS today.
In a few years, NASA plans to bring humans back to the moon and, shortly thereafter, begin building a colony there. This means that a lot of people and material will be heading to the Moon soon, and navigation solutions are mandatory if we are to be successful in our endeavors.
The idea of developing GPS solutions for the Moon is not new, but entered a new phase earlier this month, after the Air Force Research Laboratory’s AFWERX program awarded a phase SBIR contract. II at Masten Space Systems.
Masten, the guys behind what could be a revolutionary lunar mining system, are currently working on “a prototype of a lunar positioning and navigation network” it should “Strengthen cislunar security and improve landing accuracy near resource-rich lunar sites.”
Besides the obvious benefits of knowing where you or your resources are on the Moon, a lunar GPS could “Cut multi-million dollar spacecraft costs” by ridding them of expensive navigation equipment and sensors currently required for navigation.
Masten moved to phase II after during phase I he proposed “The design of the prototype network that unloads the position, navigation and timing (PNT) beacons of a spacecraft into a dedicated sensor array on the Moon.”
Now the company will be working on the manufacture of the beacons. These beacons are supposed to sink into the surface like a mesh network, allowing “Coherent wireless connectivity to lunar spacecraft, objects and orbital assets”.
Masten plans to test the solution on an unspecified date using the Xodiac lander here on Earth, “To demonstrate the integration of payload and beacon operations in a terrestrial environment”.