In the Spotlight

Meet Hanaa Al Bitar

Head of User Segment Business Stream - and fascinated by satellite navigation

Meet Hanaa Al Bitar

Head of User Segment Business Stream - and fascinated by satellite navigation

    Tell us about your job…

    I’m currently in charge of the User Segment and Augmentations Business Stream in our Bids and Preliminary Projects department, working at the heart of satellite navigation.

    Our priority business development targets are future autonomous cars, drones and trains, all of which are of course closely tied to smart transportation.

    We’re developing robust, high-integrity precise positioning solutions designed to boost this ecosystem, leveraging our core expertise in GNSS infrastructures (Galileo, EGNOS, KASS, LEO PNT, etc.).

    This Business Stream aims to help Thales Alenia Space gain a strong foothold in the downstream applications sector, seeking synergies with Thales DIS and key partnerships with the sector’s leading players. We have a mature portfolio to address this sector that enables us to develop technologies tailored to our current (Galileo, EGNOS, KPS) and future infrastructures, while proposing end-to-end solutions for new markets like NewSpace (LEO PNT, satellite IoT, etc.).

    My job is to define business and technology roadmaps, develop user solutions and help consolidate our engineering skills base. Besides partnerships and business development, I manage a large number of bids. We take a user-centric approach, working with a broad spectrum of contacts and in close cooperation with user segment players, particularly Thales DIS.

    Tell us about your career path…

    After a degree in networks and telecommunications engineering in Lebanon, I earned a postgraduate degree in the same field from the French engineering school ENSEEIHT. I subsequently obtained a PhD grant from the French Ministry of Education and Research.

    I took my first steps in the world of satellite navigation through my PhD in GNSS signal processing at ENAC, the French national civil aviation school, and Thales Alenia Space.

    After my PhD, I pursued several missions in navigation with the French space agency CNES and later developed the first GNSS receiver for the SILICOM team, later to become SYNTONY.

    I joined Thales Alenia Space in 2012, where I was initially in charge of the Navigation, Land, Earth Station (NLES) communicating with SBAS geostationary satellites, for EGNOS in Europe, and with the Korea Augmentation Satellite System (KASS) developed by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, which was certified and entered service just recently.

    I subsequently headed up a number of projects funded by CNES involving precise point positioning (PPP) service demonstrations using EGNOS satellites. I was also responsible for a system study to define the space segment and meet users’ ever more demanding performance requirements, aimed at shaping future high-added-value missions for Europe based on a constellation of satellites in inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO).

    What future applications is LEO-PNT set to spawn?

    Hanaa Al Bitar

    © Thales Alenia Space

    Among other things, LEO-PNT will combine high accuracy with very fast convergence times. A key benefit of that will be a massive reduction in latency, making it compatible with autonomous transportation, a sector with high stakes. The aim is to achieve 10-centimeter accuracy and a convergence time of seconds.

    To address these applications in the future, we’ll need more than just satellite-based positioning. The solutions we’re developing envision a hybrid mix of GNSS receiver capabilities, including all the latest advances such as LEO PNT, and non-GNSS interoceptive and exteroceptive sensors. Interoceptive sensors will sense internal vehicle motions (through an inertial sensor or endometer, etc.), whereas exteroceptive sensors — cameras, lidars and radars — will calculate a vehicle’s motion and position with respect to its external environment. It’s this combination of GNSS and non-GNSS technologies that will enable us to address the autonomous vehicle, UAV (including drones) and train markets. Our space-based solutions must also be founded on in-depth knowledge of non-space technologies.

    What are the most important qualities in your job?

    Perseverance, curiosity, and pro-activeness, a holistic vision to define strategic directions for the user Business Stream, and also an eye for detail, which can prove valuable when you’re looking for a needle in a haystack with GNSS!