Thales Alenia Space Has Been Selected by The European Space Agency to Study Specific Technical Aspects for a Future Lunar Radio Navigation System

Rome, October 27th, 2021 – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to study fundamental techniques, models and algorithms to facilitate a future Lunar Radio Navigation System (LNRS).

This study contract is part of ESA’s Moonlight initiative, aiming to build reliable communication and navigation services to support the next generation of institutional and private Lunar Exploration Missions. Moon exploration is a strategic priority in space exploration, for both ESA and the industries, and it will enable the future manned missions to Mars.

Artist impression of prospection activities in a Moon Base. © ESA

This contract covers the definition of the Orbit Determination and Timing Synchronization (ODTS) concepts, the Lunar reference frames (selenodetic and timing) and the signal modulation techniques for one-way and two-way services applicable to future lunar radio navigation communication.

The Orbit Determination and Time Synchronization are key factors to provide accurate positioning and timing synchronization to future Moon Users. In recent years, the scientific community has been involved in several studies on the Lunar Navigation system, and in particular on different Orbit Determination and Time Synchronization algorithms. Some of these algorithms have been used for terrestrial applications but, for the lunar environment, additional models and technological constraints have to be considered.

This is the challenge that Thales Alenia Space will tackle, in partnership with Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), the French National Centre for Space Studies – CNES (Space geodesy office) and Politecnico di Torino.

This activity complements the ongoing Phase A/B1 activities that will study the feasibility and definition of a future Lunar Communications and Navigation Services, with one of the parallel contracts led by Telespazio. Thales Alenia Space, together with Telespazio, is responsible for the definition and design of the overall system, as well as for the design of the space segment (elements orbiting around the Moon) and the lunar segment (elements on the surface of the Moon). The synergy established with Telespazio will ensure the optimisation of the solution.



Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 1.850 billion euros in 2020 and has around 7,700 employees in 18 sites in 11 countries across Europe and a plant in the USA.


Courtesy of Thales Alenia Space