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Xona Space Systems closes $19M Series A to build out ultra-accurate GPS alternative | TechCrunch

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses Xona Space Systems, a startup that plans to launch a satellite constellation in low Earth orbit to provide a commercial alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS). The key points are:

  • GPS has maintained a monopoly on positioning, navigation, and timing, but Xona believes a more accurate system is needed for autonomous vehicles, advanced robotics, and other 21st-century technologies.
  • Xona's "Pulsar" network aims to offer more accurate geolocation data at a potentially lower cost than GPS.
  • Xona's approach involves using a "cloud architecture for atomic clocks" to dramatically reduce the cost of each satellite while still providing higher accuracy.
  • Xona has already launched a demonstration satellite and plans to launch its first production-class satellite in 2025, with a goal of eventually deploying a 300-satellite constellation.
  • The company has designed its signal to be backwards compatible with many existing GPS chipsets, requiring only a firmware update.
  • Xona has raised $19 million in a Series A funding round to support the development of its satellite system.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Xona's Approach

1. What is Xona's approach to building a GPS alternative?

  • Xona is taking a more "SpaceX-like" approach compared to the traditional government contracting mentality behind GPS.
  • Xona's "Pulsar" network is built on a patented "cloud architecture for atomic clocks" that dramatically reduces the cost of each satellite while still providing higher accuracy than GPS.
  • Xona plans to launch a constellation of 300 satellites, with the first production-class satellite launching in 2025.

2. How does Xona's approach differ from the current GPS system?

  • The 31 GPS satellites are "exquisite, ultra-expensive, and synchronized with nanosecond precision using massive on-board atomic clocks."
  • In contrast, Xona's approach aims to provide orders of magnitude higher levels of accuracy (several centimeters rather than meters) at a lower cost per satellite.

3. How is Xona's signal designed to be compatible with existing GPS chipsets?

  • Xona has designed its signal to be backwards compatible with many existing GPS chipsets, requiring only a firmware update to access the encrypted Pulsar signal.

[02] Market Opportunity

1. What is the market opportunity that Xona is targeting?

  • Xona believes there will be a huge market for advanced positioning, navigation, and timing services due to the rise of autonomous vehicles and other emerging technologies.
  • The article notes that "outages could cause incalculable damage to the global economy, while enhancement opens up whole new industries," highlighting the importance of a reliable and accurate positioning system.

2. How does Xona plan to compete with the free GPS service?

  • While GPS is a free service, Xona is convinced that there will be significant demand for a more accurate and reliable positioning system, especially as autonomous vehicles and other advanced technologies become more prevalent.

3. What is Xona's funding status?

  • Xona has recently closed a $19 million Series A funding round led by Future Ventures and Seraphim Space, with participation from other investors.
  • This funding will be used to launch the first production-class satellite and build out the ground segment to support the Pulsar network.
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