ORLANDO, Fla. — Xona Space Systems, a California-based startup developing a satellite-based navigation service, has raised $19 million in a Series A funding round, the company announced May 8.

The round was led by Future Ventures and Seraphim Space. New investors NGP Capital, Industrious Ventures, Murata Electronics, Space Capital, and Aloniq also joined the round.

Xona is developing a commercial positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) service through a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites. The company plans to offer the service as an alternative or backup to the Global Positioning System.

“This funding will be used to accelerate the deployment of Xona’s low Earth orbit satellite network,” said Brian Manning, the company’s chief executive and co-founder.

Precision guidance for autonomous vehicles

He said Xona plans to begin beta operations of its satellite service, named Pulsar, designed to provide precision guidance for autonomous vehicles.

“AI and automation are the future,” he said. “Our Pulsar service aims to be for these industries what the North Star was for humanity in previous centuries.”

Alternatives to GPS are in high demand, said Rob Desborough, general partner at Seraphim Space. “After half a century of use, our dependence on GPS is absolute. Outages could cause incalculable damage to the global economy, while enhancement opens up whole new industries. Waiting for GPS to fail, or for hostile powers to spoof it, is not an option for our security or commercial industries.”

Xona has won military research contracts from the U.S. Air Force. Lockheed Martin Ventures is another investor in the company. 

Compatible with GPS user equipment

“We have been searching for over a decade for the next great space company that will have a transformational impact on the world,” said Steve Jurvetson, co-founder and managing partner at Future Ventures. “Xona is building a powerful, precise and protected platform for global geolocation services.”

Much of the economy, from autonomous vehicles to maps and asset tracking rely on space-based navigation, he said. ‘With current offerings, the signals are weak and thus, easily lost in buildings, urban areas, and areas with signal interference.”

Jurvetson said Xona’s satellites will be able to provide a “more robust and powerful solution than current systems operating in higher orbits, while preserving compatibility with end user equipment.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...