Lockheed Martin To Build Lunar Communications And Navigation Network

Lockheed Martin will offer a service consisting of a network of satellites located in lunar orbit that will provide communication and navigation services support to spacecrafts on or around the moon.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Published: 29th Mar 2023 17:22 GMT
Written by: Zac Aubert

Lockheed Martin announces establishment of a new subsidiary company called Crescent Space Services LLC. Crescent will offer a service consisting of a network of satellites located in lunar orbit that will provide communication and navigation services support to spacecrafts on or around the moon for government and commercial lunar missions.

The Parsec Network

The satellites that form the Parsec network will be created by Lockheed Martin, utilizing their proprietary Curio bus, which was developed for smallsat missions like NASA's Janus and Lunar Trailblazer.

The launch of the initial batch of satellites is planned for 2025.

The aim is to establish a telecommunications network that allows customers to roam onto other systems and vice versa. The required technology for Parsec is already well established, leveraging Lockheed's Curio bus and the company's experience with communications and navigation payloads for other spacecraft.

The Parsec Network will comply with LunaNet, an idea that NASA put forward for interoperable networks designed to provide communication and navigation services on the moon, while also collaborating with other systems being developed by various companies and governments.

Crescent Space Services has filed license applications with the Federal Communication Commission for the Parsec system. One application relates to the satellites themselves, while a second, submitted earlier this month, would cover communication with various user terminals on the lunar surface.

According to the company's spokesperson, services can be provided using a single satellite, but initially, they plan to start with two, with the option to add more if required to meet the increasing demand. This demand is expected to come from a combination of commercial, NASA, and other government missions to the moon, with over 100 missions estimated to take place over the next ten years.

These missions will require communications and navigation services, especially for those heading towards the lunar farside or the south polar region where obstacles and relays may be necessary.

Some companies that are developing landers for NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, such as Draper and Intuitive Machines, have proposed plans to launch relay satellites to support their landers.

A program called Moonlight is being developed by the European Space Agency to offer lunar communication and navigation services. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. is constructing the first satellite for Moonlight, a spacecraft known as Lunar Pathfinder, which is scheduled to launch in 2026 as a part of a CLPS mission that was awarded to Firefly Aerospace on March 14th.

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