Plus Ultra Space Outposts, which is a Spanish-German corporation, is preparing to be the provider of critical communications and navigation facilities for prospective moon expeditions. In late October, the Spanish-German business secured a launch agreement with Rocket Factory Augsburg, which is a German startup, to launch Plus Ultra’s first satellite.

The nearly 400-kilogram satellite would be launched into the geosynchronous transfer orbit as part of that mission, which is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2023. The satellite will next travel to lunar orbit using its electric propulsion system, arriving six months later. At Space Tech Expo Europe held in Bremen, Germany, Sebastian Ströhl, the Plus Ultra COO informed SpaceNews that infrastructure is critical for a new wave of lunar missions.

“Within the following ten years, more than 140 expeditions are expected to occupy the moon.” Infrastructure is, of course, required to travel to and dwell on the moon. One aspect is transportation, which is clearly well-managed. The second half, on the other hand, we perceive as communication and navigation.”

Plus Ultra’s Harmony constellation intends to deliver higher coverage as well as data rates than those specified in NASA’s LunaNet plan, which aspires to establish infrastructure through public-private partnerships, service agreement arrangements, and maybe numerous providers.

“We’re speaking about 100 megabits per person, global coverage, and a GPS-like navigation system,” Ströhl explains. The goal is to transform navigation and communications from a properly monitored resource to an on-demand service that allows for new capabilities.

Eight satellites orbiting in 2 planes at 6,000 kilometers well above the lunar surface would use laser communications links to complete the constellation. The first 4 satellites would already cover the lunar surface to an extent of 80%. The constellation as a whole would provide comprehensive coverage.

“The goal is to provide the greatest infrastructure to the emerging sector in order for it to accelerate and provide more significant scientific or commercial achievements.” A prime contractor would be in charge of satellite construction. “We believe we have all of the components for our satellite systems.  We put together our system using commercially available components. We have experts on board with this kind of experience, who have engaged on systems designed with operational satellite constellations.”

The firm was one of 4 finalists in the ESA’s Moonlight Initiative’s first round, which awarded study contracts to two consortia, one managed by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) as well as the other by Telespazio. Plus Ultra’s initiative, according to Ströhl, has been entirely bootstrapped with a donation from Luxembourg via the “Fit 4 Start” program, and the company is currently working on the very first venture capital fundraising round.

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