The Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission is scheduled to launch in 2023 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force announced Nov. 28 it delivered the second and final military communications payloads that will launch in 2023 on Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission known as ASBM.
The first Enhanced Polar System Recapitalization (EPS-R) payload was delivered in June. Both payloads are scheduled to launch to highly elliptical orbits on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Read the whole Space News- article written by Sandra Erwin here
Danish and Norwegian satellite operators, Sternula and Space Norway, who are the world’s first to launch and operate VDES satellites, will work together on satellite network roaming, search-and-rescue, and new maritime IoT services in a new ESA-funded research project to realize AIS 2.0.
The VDES technology has been developed over the past decade by IALA as the evolution of AIS for digital data exchange in the maritime VHF frequency band and has now matured to enable the digital transformation of the maritime industry. The technology, sometimes referred to as AIS 2.0, has been approved by the United Nations’ telecom agency, ITU, for global use in the maritime VHF spectrum. The world’s first VDES capable satellite, NorSat-2, launched in 2017, has allowed Space Norway to demonstrate a range of maritime digital services, and with the launch of NorSat-TD in February 2023 the VDES capabilities of Space Norway will increase further. Sternula is launching its first satellite in December 2022 as a pioneer VDES satellite operator.
VDES allows for two-way communication where AIS is a one-way system. The range of terrestrial VDES is limited to a station's visibility above the horizon, which usually means a maximum range of approximately 70-100 kilometres. However, satellite VDES provides coverage also outside the range of coastal stations, such as open oceans and Arctic waters. VDES supports a wide range of services and applications that improve the safety of life at sea and helps the maritime industry become more efficient and environmentally friendly. This includes services such as distribution of maritime safety information, data exchange for improved situational awareness in rescue operations and route exchange for safer and more cost effective journeys.
In a new ESA-funded research project, Sternula and Space Norway will work together to develop and demonstrate maritime IoT services based on the VDES technology, VDES satellite network roaming and maritime distress alert detection in support of search and rescue. The project paves the way for new and innovative maritime digital data services in support of e-Navigation and the digital evolution of the maritime industry. Additionally, the project will test a roaming capability between Sternula and Space Norway’s satellites to deliver better services to the customers. The system relays information from a ship’s components gathered by Sternula equipment via Space Norway’s satellite. While at sea, a ship’s need for maintenance or spare parts can be identified, making maintenance and repairs easy and time efficient when in port.
On the 25th of August 2022 Space Norway AS signed contracts with vendors and will immediately start building a radar satellite system optimized for maritime surveillance in Norwegian areas of interest.
The payloads will be developed and built by Norwegian suppliers, while the satellite bus and the radar antenna will be built in the UK. The first satellite will be launched early 2025. In the following years, the plan is to launch a number of radar satellites to establish a constellation.
The satellite system named MicroSAR is unique in the way it can detect relatively small vessels in a very large area simultaneously. As of today we don’t know about any radar satellite systems with the same mix of capabilities.
Norway’s sea areas are seven times larger than the Norwegian land area. The Arctic and the High North is Norway’s most important strategic area of interest. This puts strong requirements on situational awareness in these areas. AIS (Automatic Identification System) has for many years been used for maritime surveillance. The challenge is that AIS is a system that requires the vessels themselves to send the required and correct AIS Information. Hence, AIS is a system based on cooperation. Today we estimate that 5 % of the vessels either does not send out AIS Information or are transmitting false information. Satellites with a radar, such as MicroSAR, will be able to detect these vessels independent of the use of AIS. MicroSAR satellites will bring an AIS Receiver to correlate radar detections with AIS Information.
The MicroSAR System is optimized for covering Norwegian needs. However, it will also offer and deliver maritime surveillance services in a global market in the same way as other radar satellites in space today, including surveillance of ship traffic, combating illegal fishing, search and rescue and oil spill detection.
Space Norway works closely with the Norwegian Armed Forces who will be the main customer and buy services and products from MicroSAR when in operation.
Space Norway also work in close cooperation with Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT). KSAT establishes, operates, and owns the MicroSAR Ground System, utilizing their existing global network. On behalf of Space Norway, they will provide services related to satellite operations and downlink of MicroSAR data. KSAT will also be responsible for marketing and sales of MicroSAR services and products as part of their portfolio, both in a national and an international market.
The Satellite System will be owned and controlled by Space Norway. This gives Norway an important strategic independent capability under national control to cover their needs for maritime surveillance.
Space Norway has signed contracts with the following vendors to build the first MicroSAR Satellite:
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) is a UK company with long experience in building satellites. SSTL will deliver the satellite platform and be responsible for integration of the payloads on board. SSTL will also be responsible for building the radar antenna through their sub-contractor Oxford Space Systems (OSS).
The payloads will be developed and produced by the Norwegian companies WideNorth, Eidsvoll Electronics (EIDEL), Kongsberg Seatex and Norwegian Defence research Establishment (FFI). Hence, the project will also contribute significantly to business development of Norwegian companies.
Space Norway’s current plans are to launch the first satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 as a Rideshare. When establishing a constellation, the satellites will be launched on dedicated launchers. The establishment of Andøya Spaceport may result in future MicroSAR satellites being launched from Norway.
The MicroSAR satellites will follow polar orbits in various orbital planes at an altitude of about 600 km and will weigh about 300 kg.
Dag H Stølan
CSO and Director Infrastructure
Phone: +47 400 29 601