Xona Space Systems Awarded Competitive Grant from the National Science Foundation
Small Business Innovation Research Program Provides Seed Funding for R&D
December 21, 2020 :: San Mateo, CA, - Xona Space Systems has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to conduct research and development (R&D) work on a space-based Atmospheric, Mapping and Satellite Integrity Monitoring (AMSIM) system to support high-integrity, precise positioning service from a Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellite navigation constellation.
This project requires monitoring satellites for faults and mapping ionospheric and tropospheric conditions, traditionally accomplished via a network of ground infrastructure, such as the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). However, to achieve the precision needed for autonomous systems, ground monitoring stations must be spaced less than 100 km apart, limiting performance over oceans and other remote areas. This work proposes the investigation of a space-based monitoring approach for a ubiquitous service. It will leverage inter-satellite communication links for integrity monitoring, techniques in GNSS Radio Occultation (RO) for tropospheric monitoring, and tomography for ionospheric mapping. This Phase I project will use physical models, computer simulation, and available atmospheric data products derived from RO and ground-based monitoring approaches for validation.
“NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.”
“We are honored to have received our first NSF grant to support our development of the critical infrastructure needed to support the age of autonomy,” said Brian Manning, CEO of Xona. “As humans more routinely become passengers of modern technology rather than operators, the supporting infrastructure, including satellite navigation and timing services, must evolve to ensure these devices can operate safely at scale. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to drive the technology behind making this a reality.”
Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant (up to $256,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $1,000,000). Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.
Startups or entrepreneurs who submit a three-page Project Pitch will know within three weeks if they meet the program’s objectives to support innovative technologies that show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk. Small businesses with innovative science and technology solutions, and commercial potential are encouraged to apply. All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR/STTR program, also known as America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, undergo a rigorous merit-based review process.
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About Xona Space Systems, Inc.
Xona Space Systems is developing the first ever independent high-performance satellite navigation and timing system designed to meet the needs of intelligent systems. Delivered via a secure, high-power signal from Xona's low Earth orbit satellites, the patent-pending Pulsar™ service aims to enable the next wave of connected technology. Learn more at or follow Xona Space Systems on Twitter @XonaSpace.
About the National Science Foundation's Small Business Programs:
America’s Seed Fund powered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $1.75 million in non-dilutive funds to support research and development (R&D),helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.1 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. For more information, visit seedfund.nsf.gov.