• William Crowe | CEO

HEO teams with UNSW for space navigation

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

HEO Robotics and ACSER are proud to be partnering together to develop navigation solutions for cubesats. This brings together HEO's implementation of cubesats at high altitudes with ACSER's expertise in GPS and low-cost space missions. This will help with HEO's mission in the analysis of space debris and the understanding of asteroids passing close to Earth.


Anywhere on Earth, we take GPS navigation for granted. Even when you land in a foreign country, your phone will always be able to track your location tell you exactly where you are.


In the space business, we use GPS tracker too - it's just that useful. There are hundreds of spacecraft in orbit today with GPS modules that provide their exact location. When near to Earth (in orbits up to 1000 kilometres above Earth's surface) this works well - and most new satellites are launched into these orbits.


Diagram of Space Service Volume from "Geometrical assessment of Multi-GNSS prospects for Space Service Volume" by Arunkumar Rathinam and Andrew Dempster, UNSW

The problem with GPS is that it doesn't work well when orbits are higher - because the system wasn't designed for space - and so special designs are required to enable the technology at higher altitudes. And with the minituarisation of satellites and systems to cubesat form factors, any such satellite GPS needs to be smaller and consume less power.

Plot of multi-GNSS simulation (altitude vs inclination) from "Geometrical assessment of Multi-GNSS prospects for Space Service Volume" by Arunkumar Rathinam and Andrew Dempster

​ACSER (the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research), based at UNSW Sydney, has deep expertise in ground-based and space-based GPS. They've produced preliminary analysis using data from the most recent GPS and other GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) that shows increasing feasibility for high orbit navigation.

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