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Former SpaceX engineer’s Xona Space cements $19M to develop small satellites for precise navigation

Xona Space team
Picture credits: Xona Space

Xona, a space tech startup developing a network of small satellites for precise navigation, has secured $19 million in Series A funding. This investment will propel Xona towards commercialisation of their PULSAR service, designed to provide robust location data for autonomous systems currently limited by traditional GPS.

The oversubscribed funding round was co-led by Future Ventures and Seraphim Space, with participation from NGP Capital, Industrious Ventures, Murata Electronics, Space Capital, and Aloniq. This funding will be used to accelerate the deployment of California-based Xona’s constellation of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, a critical step towards offering their PULSAR service commercially.

Last month, we also reported about London spacetech Blue Skies Space that bagged £2M to launch its first satellite in 2025.

What is PULSAR 

PULSAR aims to address the limitations of the existing Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), primarily GPS. Xona highlights that PULSAR offers significant improvements in accuracy, availability, and security compared to GPS. These advancements are crucial for the widespread adoption of autonomous systems across various industries.

“A century ago, people looked to the North Star for trusted guidance when other methods were unavailable,” said Brian Manning, CEO and co-founder of Xona. “AI and automation are the future – our PULSAR service aims to be for these industries what the North Star was for humanity in previous centuries.”

Shortcomings in the current GPS for autonomous systems

Rob Desborough, General Partner at Seraphim Space, emphasises the growing dependence on GPS and the potential risks associated with outages or spoofing. “Waiting for GPS to fail, or for hostile powers to spoof it, is not an option for our security or commercial industries,” Desborough states. “Xona…are executing on building the GPS the modern era needs.”

Xona positions PULSAR as a solution for industries such as agriculture, automotive, and defence, which are increasingly adopting automation but face challenges due to limitations of GPS in unstructured environments. PULSAR promises centimetre-level location accuracy, allowing autonomous systems to operate effectively even in unfamiliar locations.

A team of experts prepares for launch

Xona’s team consists of navigation and space experts with experience at SpaceX, Ford, NASA, and Blue Origin. They have made significant progress in satellite development, user equipment integration, and commercialization. Development kits are already available for purchase, and Xona boasts partnerships with the US Space Force and Spirent, among others.

What we think about the startup

Investors like Steve Jurvetson, co-founder and managing partner at Future Ventures, see Xona as a transformative company. “Xona is building a powerful, precise and protected platform for global geolocation services,” Jurvetson remarked. He compares Xona’s constellation to Starlink’s communication network, highlighting the potential for a more robust and powerful solution than traditional GPS systems.

Xona’s $19 million funding round signifies growing investor confidence in the potential of high-precision navigation for autonomous systems. The company’s LEO constellation and PULSAR service aim to address limitations of traditional GPS, paving the way for wider adoption of automation across various industries.

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