Space

Lockheed invests in Xona’s GPS-alternative constellation

TAMPA, Fla. — Startup Xona Space Systems has raised around $15 million for its proposed navigation constellation, including funds from GPS satellite maker Lockheed Martin’s venture capital arm.

Lockheed Martin Ventures was among new investors that joined a funding round Xona announced Aug. 3, which early-stage investor First Spark Ventures led. 

Xona CEO Brian Manning declined to disclose the amount of funds secured in the round, but said the startup has raised more than $25 million in total to date. In June, Xona put its total raise at $10 million

Manning said the new round will help Xona double its team to 60 employees ahead of deploying Muninn, its second prototype satellite, early next year.

Huginn, the first prototype for California-based Xona’s proposed network of around 300 navigation cubesats, launched May 25 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission.

Manning said “so far Huginn has been progressing through the early phases of its mission and is performing as expected.”

He declined to disclose details about the tests, which aim to show certain performance advantages its constellation would have over GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

According to Xona, its positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services can deliver 10 times better accuracy than standard GNSS by operating in a much lower orbit.

Manning said Xona has also secured a lease on a new 7,600-square-meter facility for manufacturing and research purposes in Burlingame, California, near its base in San Mateo.

Muninn and Huginn were made in-house and Xona has not said whether it will outsource production for its operational Pulsar satellites, which the startup expects to start deploying in early 2025.

Lockheed is building a new generation of GPS satellites for the U.S. Space Force that include more advanced anti-jamming and geolocation capabilities.

In November, the U.S. Space Force ordered three GPS 3F satellites from Lockheed for $737 million, under a 2018 agreement worth $7.2 billion for up to 22 spacecraft.

Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures, said the fund “invested in Xona so they can continue to develop and build their commercial system to complement the greater” GNSS architecture. 

“As customer needs evolve, Lockheed Martin Ventures continues to work with companies we believe are on the forefront of emerging technology and that support increasingly resilient, hybrid systems,” Moran said in a statement

Xona’s other new investors include SRI Ventures, Velvet Sea Ventures, Gaingels, Airstream Venture Partners, and Space.VC. 

Xona said existing investors also participated, including Seraphim Space, Toyota Ventures, 1517 Fund, MaC Venture Capital, and Stellar Ventures. 

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