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Startup Develops GPS-Independent Navigation Sensor for Satellites

Atomic device

Startup Develops GPS-Independent Navigation Sensor for Satellites

California-based startup Vector Atomic and Honeywell Aerospace have developed an atomic sensor that takes navigation measurements without using GPS.

Funded by the Defense Innovation Unit, the sensor was delivered in August and is planned to be deployed into orbit, SpaceNews reported.

DIU awarded Vector Atomic a $10 million contract in 2020 to produce an atomic sensor that can survive in space. The startup worked with Honeywell to develop the device, certify it for spaceflight and integrate it on a satellite bus.

Inertial navigation systems, the underlying technology behind atomic sensors, rely on accelerometers and gyroscopes to determine a moving object’s position, orientation and velocity.

Vector Atomic CEO and co-founder Jamil Abo-Shaeer told SpaceNews that his company has no venture capital funding. He established his startup in 2018 to commercialize atomic instruments.

According to Abo-Shaeer, quantum sensors that use atomic clocks do not degrade in accuracy over time, making them useful to the military. He added that the atomic sensor will operate autonomously once it enters orbit.

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Category: Space

Tags: atomic sensor Defense Innovation Unit GPS Honeywell Aerospace space SpaceNews Vector Atomic