Navigation Laboratory

The Navigation Laboratory (NavLab), investigates the full range of navigation applications, from practical to scientific. 

The NavLab represents both an engineering tool and a tests & measurement facility to support the work of ESA internal and external customers while performing tests, analysis and characterisation of navigation systems.

The lab supports test campaigns for navigation and telecommunications services for both ESA and non-ESA projects based on a contract. It manages the receivers laboratory where there are all the required tools and equipment to test GNSS receivers. 

Two test-bed vans are used to perform real-time field data collection with GNSS professional and mass-market receivers. 

They can collect data in a variety of environments such as open sky, sub-urban and urban. Data is collected and stored for post-processing and the vans can be equipped to carry different types of signal recorders depending on the needs.

For general enquires regarding this TEC location please refer to the assigned contacts:

Navigation Laboratory

Point of contact
For testing requests, access to lab facilities, training and consultancy services, please refer to:


TPA Management system


The laboratory is composed of 2 large working rooms full of state of the art GNSS equipment, 2 server rooms, 2 customized Mercedes Sprinter vehicles dedicated to on-field mobile campaigns, the PRS laboratory, where the GALILEO Public Regulated Signal related activities and equipment are carried out in a secure environment, and an expanding farm of antennas and sensors on the roof. 

The NavLab works closely with the UTC and Payload laboratories. 

The GNSS equipment and test-beds hosted in the NavLab allow users to perform every type of study and analysis related to PNT (Position, Navigation and Timing).

ESA Test day - ZG drone & Customdrone


RF Multi-Constellation Simulators


The NavLab is equipped with several versions of the Spirent RFCS including the last available on the market, GSS9000. The GSS9000 provides numerous benefits to all those working in high-end GNSS technology and application development, including comprehensive and feature-rich simulation and full control of all aspects of the GNSS operating environment, inherent repeatability and the ability to apply systematic errors and incidents that are impossible to realise using actual satellite signals. There are a number of GSS9000 in the NavLab ready to accommodate Galileo evolutions through software and hardware updates.

RF Multi-Constellation Simulators


Instruments & technical parameters

  • SimGEN Yes
  • SimInertial Yes
  • Channels Up to 160 depending on the unit
  • Update rate 1 kHz, 500 Hz, 250 Hz, 100 Hz, 10 Hz
  • GPS L1, L2, L5
  • GLO L1, L2
  • GAL E1, E5, E6, CS
  • BDS B1i, B2i, B2a, B1c
  • QZ L1, L2, L5
  • SBAS L1
  • Other features FLEX, interference generator (Agilent), SimRemote

RF Multi-Constellation Simulators

Multi-Box and Multi-Antenna Configurations (SPIRENT) 

Besides the standard Spirent RFCS configurations, the NavLab is further equipped with a tailored simulation system, based on the GSS9000 series and additionally configured as two GSS9790 simulators, an interference generator and combiner unit, and a multi-box combiner unit.

Multiple combinations of simulation environments can be achieved with the GSS9790 configurations on top of the baseline GSS9000 and SimGEN capabilities, in particular for conducted and over-the-air RF wavefront simulation, Ground Transmitter simulation (GTx), and multi-output scenarios. The extended configurations provide up to 10 outputs (both composite output and single SV per output) or up to 10 independent jamming beacons per chassis.


Septentrio Test User Receiver (TUR-N)

The FOC TUR-N receiver is procured in the context of the Galileo System Validation and Verification activities. It is a multi-frequency, multi-constellation Test User Receiver platform designed to allow a high degree of flexibility and to emulate different classes of receivers. 

The FOC TUR-N is up-to-date with the latest evolutions of Galileo FOC2, such as OS-NMA, E6 encryption and I/NAV improvements: Reduced CED, Reed Solomon and Secondary Synchronization Pattern for more robust clock and ephemeris data reception and faster time Synchronisation with the Galileo system time.

The FOC TURN is also pioneering the implementation of the Open Service Navigation Message Authentication (OSNMA). The service is intended to provide the end-users receiver with the capability to verify the authenticity of the received navigation messages broadcast by the Galileo satellites.

The FOC TURN also hosts the capability to record base-based I/Q data on internal drive or external SSD (up to 5 hours recording single frequency at 60MHz sampling).

Mass-Market GNSS Receivers

A complete set of state-of-the art multi-constellation multi-frequency mass-market receivers including Galileo are tested in the NavLab. 

Tests are based on simulated scenarios and live campaigns on-field (urban, sub-urban and rural environments) with vehicular and pedestrian users.

IFEN SX3 SW Receiver

The SX3 SW receiver is a modular Dual-RF Multi-GNSS Software Receiver. 

Instruments & technical parameters

Its main characteristics are:

  • High configurability due to SW based implementation
  • Baseband API, for insertion of baseband signal processing
  • Sensor API, for insertion of sensor data processing
  • Assistance API, for access to Navigation data
  • Dual-RF input (2+2 RF chains, GPS/Galileo L1/L5) for
  • Simultaneous use with two antenna sources

It is meant as a rapid prototyping solution for the development of state of the art GNSS receivers and it is commercialised by IFEN GmBH.



STK or Systems Tool Kit is a powerful simulation environment, implemented by Analytical Graphics, Inc. The capacity to propagate objects in Space based on various force models and the wide range of available embedded data providers makes this software package a great resource for space engineers to design their space mission and share results in one integrated environment. It is of particular interest in the field of navigation since it allows the assessment of satellite systems in terms of navigation performances. Currently, STK is extensively used within the TEC-ESN navigation section of ESTEC for two different projects:

In the context of lunar navigation, STK supports both the assessment of the capability of using a Spaceborne GNSS receiver at lunar altitudes, with a focus on Galileo and GPS, aboard various upcoming moon missions as well as the design of a new navigation system around the moon, integrating various navigation transmitter types, i.e. Earth GNSS, lunar satellites and lunar beacons.

In the Galileo Second Generation (G2G) project, STK helps to assess the user performance in Galileo MEO and Non-MEO orbits.


Flight is a software developed by Astri Polska that allows to perform on-ground testing of space GNSS receivers. 

It allows to connect to the receiver to update the receiver's configuration and log telemetry data, as well as to control a Spirent RFCS and log data from it. 

The SW currently supports testing of PODRIX receiver and to some extent GNSS-SDR based CubeSat receivers. 


PNT2 is a development framework for the implementation and assessment of advanced and robust PVT engines/solutions/techniques representative of mass-market receivers, focusing on the operation in harsh propagation conditions. 

The PNT2 tool is used to give the user insight in the effect of different estimator settings on the PVT accuracy. The PVT solution is compared to the receiver from which the observables are used and a more accurate reference solution (for which an inertial measurement unit is used). 

This reference solution is referred to as the SPAN solution. In this way the influence of different settings (but also the development new features) can be easily assessed.

Instruments & technical parameters

  • Language MATLAB
  • Pre-processing Hatch filter (smoothing) Clock jumps removal (1 msec) Third Order differential code (for satellite filtering)
  • Observation masking Satellite elevation, Carrier-to-noise ratio

ESA’s NavLab drone


Micro-world within atomic clock


New instruments for Galileo’s tomorrow


NAVISP Industry 2023 @ ESTEC

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