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Advanced Navigation awarded $5.2M in funding from Australian Space Agency for Future Lunar Exploration

By Last edited May 30th, 2024No Comments
Advanced Navigation | Moon To Mars Initiative

Australia, June 2023 Advanced Navigation, one of the world’s most determined innovators in AI robotics and navigation technology, has been awarded a Moon to Mars Initiative: Demonstrator Mission Grant by the Australian Space Agency, to support NASA’s endeavour to explore the Moon and beyond to Mars.

Awarded AUD 5.2 million, the grant will accelerate development and production of the company’s breakthrough Light Detection, Altimetry and Velocimetry (LiDAV) technology. Supported by this award, Advanced Navigation will deliver a space-qualified LiDAV sensor called LUNA (Laser measurement Unit for Navigational Aid) to US-based space systems company, Intuitive Machines, as part of NASA’s ongoing Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

Project LUNA will ultimately be demonstrated on board Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander during the final descent en route to the lunar surface. Following this demonstration, Advanced Navigation’s LUNA technology will be offered commercially for integration into landers from 2025-26. The technology will improve the safety and reliability of autonomous landing manoeuvres, enable reliable navigation on the lunar surface, and serve as a catalyst for autonomous space exploration and transportation.

Accelerating the production of paradigm-shifting technology for autonomous celestial navigation

“We are humbled the Australian Space Agency has awarded Advanced Navigation a Demonstrator Mission Grant as it represents a pivotal milestone in the company’s trajectory, as we embark to be among the first Australian technologies to reach the Moon,

Our work with Intuitive Machines will enhance Australia’s sovereign Space capabilities, further unlock the commercial Space economy, and ignite a new era of innovation as we push the boundaries of scientific discoveries and exploration on the Moon and beyond,”

said Xavier Orr, CEO and co-founder, Advanced Navigation.


lidav nova-c

Advanced Navigation LUNA LiDAV technology on board Intuitive Machines Nova-C lander

Project LUNA powered by LiDAV technology 

Spacecraft autonomy demands exceptional situational awareness and relies on multiple navigation technologies for mission success. Based on more than a decade of research and development at the Australian National University, LUNA represents a breakthrough in commercial extraterrestrial navigation. The technology delivers precise three-dimensional velocity and altitude information relative to the lunar surface. When visual references are unavailable and cameras fail due to lack of light, dust and other obscurities, LUNA can serve as a primary navigation input. 

The navigation sensor will ultimately become a crucial technology that will improve the safety and reliability of complex autonomous landing manoeuvres and the confidence with which we can explore the lunar surface.

Supporting NASA’s endeavour to explore the Moon and beyond to Mars

Previously a recipient of the Moon to Mars: Supply Chain Capability Improvement Grant, the Australian Space Agency continues to support Advanced Navigation with its Demonstrator Mission Grant.

Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency said, “The projects being supported show just some of the many ways that space technologies are improving how we live and how we work. By helping Australian organisations like Advanced Navigation to develop their space heritage, they can break into new markets and supply chains and take their innovative Aussie technology to the world. That will help them to grow, keep their ideas in Australia and generate more employment opportunities here.

Celestial exploration with technology partners

Outside of the Nova-C Lander, the light weight and performance capabilities of LUNA are well suited for Intuitive Machines Micro-Nova, a mini extreme mobility lunar vehicle also known as a “hopper”. The spacecraft will explore shadowed craters and lava tubes, using LUNA to help it navigate autonomously, regardless of ambient light conditions and lack of access to GPS. 

During this project, Advanced Navigation will be collaborating with Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) at Macquarie University to design, fabricate, and qualify LUNA’s optical head assembly to survive the extraordinarily challenging environmental conditions of space. Advanced Navigation will also be supported by Australian company Transparent Earth Geophysics, for comprehensive flight test campaigns, and to explore terrestrial applications of LUNA for airborne gravimetry and precision navigation of airborne vehicles when GPS is unavailable or unreliable. This includes aircrafts, helicopters, commercial drones and flying taxis among other exciting applications. 

Founded on a culture of research and discovery, Advanced Navigation’s mission is to be the catalyst of the autonomy revolution. Powered by a deep curiosity to apply ground-breaking technologies to uncover and explore new frontiers, the company is ultimately extending human capabilities to build a more resilient and sustainable future, with safer outcomes, on and off planet. 


About Advanced Navigation
Advanced Navigation was founded in Sydney, Australia in 2012 by engineers Xavier Orr and Chris Shaw to commercialise university research on AI-based inertial navigation. Since 2012, the company has experienced great success and has progressed into several deep and new technology fields. This includes underwater acoustics, GNSS antennas and receivers, radio frequency systems, inertial sensors, robotics, and quantum-enhanced inertial navigation.

Today, Advanced Navigation is a supplier to some of the biggest companies in the world, including Airbus, Boeing, Google, Apple, and General Motors. Advanced Navigation is headquartered in Sydney, Australia with multiple research facilities throughout the country and sales offices around the world. Advanced Navigation is an Australian manufacturer exporting globally while maintaining carbon-neutral operations. #JoinTheAutonomyRevolution 

Media contact
Laura Hayward
Head of Communications
[email protected]