Preparing for launch

A group of engineers and operators from Space Norway are currently visiting the British satellite operator Avanti in Goonhilly, Wales, to attend satellite operations courses. The team is strengthening their competence in satellite control and operations as a preparation for the upcoming launch of the ASBM (ASBM, Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission) satellites in 2023.

Satellite communications is understandably associated with strict security requirements and require highly dependable ground systems. The satellite operations control centre monitors the satellites 24/7. Telemetry is downloaded from the satellites and processed to ensure that all systems are operating per specification. The satellite operators work continuously in conjunction with the customers to qualify the mission requirements. The uniqueness of ASBM due to its highly elliptical choice of orbit as well as the close collaboration with its international partners Inmarsat, the Norwegian Armed Forces and the US Space Command, places significance on the development of a solid organization for satellite operations.

The Norwegian engineers are trained for a duration of two months at the British operator Avanti. Avanti was chosen for this assignment because it utilizes the same satellite operations software as Space Norway has implemented for ASBM. By participating in this training program, Space Norway ensures that its operations team holds solid competence in satellite operations prior to launching the satellites next year. Birger Johansen is leading the engineers from Space Norway and KSAT, and he believes they have benefited greatly from attending this training program in Goonhilly. – Our personnel collaborate very well with the satellite operators from Avanti. We have met persons with Avanti who hold a similar mindset as what we are used to from our organizations. There is a flat hierarchical structure in the company, and they share the same approach to problem-solving. The cultural similarities enable the training to be particularly efficient in readying our team for operating the satellites after launch, and contributes to significantly reducing the operational risk, states a satisfied Johansen.   

The two Norwegian HEO-satellites shall be operational within one and a half year. They represent the first satellites from Western space industry to circulate the Earth in high-elliptical orbits across the two poles.

The ground stations have already been built in Tromsø and at Bardufoss and are ready to receive and process the information coming from the two satellites. Space Norway and KSAT are collaborating closely to prepare a round-the-clock, 24/7 organization for operating the ground stations once the satellites are operational in orbit.

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Important test of the ground stations for ASBM

The HEOSAT-project has reached a key milestone and began end-to-end testing of the ground segment (for the satellite system) during the second half of June.

Towards the end of 2023 two large satellites will be launched into a high-elliptical orbit going across the north pole. ASBM (Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission) is Space Norway’s major initiative to pioneer providing broadband communication to the Arctic region.

During the construction of the two satellites there is a major test program implemented to ensure that all the equipment onboard is built to sustain the extreme conditions offered in a space environment and experienced during a launch. The testing involves exposing the individual satellite components to temperatures, radiation levels and vibration levels equivalent of those experienced during launch and in space.

During the construction of the two satellites there is a major test program implemented to ensure that all the equipment onboard is built to sustain the extreme conditions offered in a space environment and experienced during a launch. The testing involves exposing the individual satellite components to temperatures, radiation levels and vibration levels equivalent of those experienced during launch and in space.

Viktig test av bakkestasjoner i ASBM-programmet

The purpose of the ongoing end-to-end testing of the ground segment is to secure that the ground stations are properly connected with the customers such that all communication and exchange of data, for example ephemeris, telemetry and commands, are transferred according to plan.

The two-week long test campaign involves teams of personnel from Space Norway, the satellite provider Northrop Grumman and the ground segment provider KSAT. The customers are also an active part of the test campaign, and representatives of the Norwegian and US Armed Forces as well as Inmarsat are standby to confirm data reception at their respective ends, as well as ready to report any possible deviations from specification. In this respect, the end-to-end test campaign serves as a first full-scale test of the supply chain from the satellite operations control center to the customers.

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Press release: EPS-R payload delivered and begins integration into the ASBM host vehicle

Date June 8th 2022

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Space Systems Command (SSC) delivered the first of two Enhanced Polar Systems-Recapitalization (EPS-R) payloads to begin integration on Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission host space vehicles. The second payload is expected to be delivered for integration onto the second host space vehicle by the end of July 2022. SSC’s joint partnership with Norway is allowing the hosted payload to deliver capabilities three years ahead of schedule with potential savings of up to $900 million. A successful integration and testing process will highlight the effectiveness of the U.S. Space Force, Norway’s Ministry of Defense, and Space Norway’s strategic partnership.

Read the rest of the press release here.

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Read this Space News article on the Arctic connectivity competition

This is a Space News article written by Jason Rainbow, May 13th 2022.

Satellite operators are venturing into the Arctic to improve connectivity as the changing atmospheric and geopolitical climate drives demand for more bandwidth in one of Earth’s last remaining frontiers.

Fledgling and established operators alike see a growing market for capacity in areas best served by satellites in non-geostationary orbit (NGSO).

OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink, the world’s largest broadband megaconstellations in low Earth orbit (LEO), already have polar-orbiting satellites in their expanding fleets.

SES is looking at using inclined planes to cover the Arctic with O3b mPower, its next-generation medium Earth orbit network that aims to start deploying satellites this year.

The Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM) — a joint venture between British satellite operator Inmarsat, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Air Force — plans to deploy two satellites in highly elliptical orbits on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2023 for polar coverage.

Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC) has outlined plans to add four satellites in highly elliptical orbits to its fleet in the following years to extend coverage deep into the Arctic Circle.

Read the rest of the article here.

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SpaceNews article on the need for broadband in the Arctic

Northrop Grumman is under contract with the U.S. Space Force to upgrade the Enhanced Polar System Recapitalization (EPS-R) ground system. Credit: Northrop Grumman

This is a SpaceNews article written by Sandra Erwin, June 9th 2022

The payloads are scheduled to lift off in 2023 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force announced June 8 it delivered the first of two military communications payloads that will launch in 2023 on Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission known as ASBM.

The $1.3 billion Enhanced Polar Systems-Recapitalization (EPS-R) payloads – developed by Northrop Grumman — will fly to highly elliptical orbits on two ASBM satellites scheduled to lift off next year on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. 

The mission also includes communications payloads for the Norwegian Ministry of Defense and for British satellite operator Inmarsat. The EPS-R are Extremely High-Frequency Extended Data Rate payloads that will provide secure communications services for U.S. forces operating in the north polar region. 

Read the rest of the article here.

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Redundancy on primary telecom connection to Svalbard restored

Space Norway AS owns the fibre optic cable between Svalbard and mainland Norway. The cable is a key element of Norway’s infrastructure in the Arctic and provides broadband telecom services both to the civil society and the science and space activities at Svalbard. Since Friday, January 7th, 2022, the system has been operating without the full specified redundancy. As of January 18th, 2022, this redundancy is restored.

The Svalbard fibre system is built as a fully redundant solution with two cables separated approximately 5-10 km on the seabed. The redundancy ensures continued operations if one of the two connections fails to function. At 04:10 CET on Friday, January 7th, 2022, one of the two connections experienced a failure. This failure did not in any way change the ability to communicate effectively with Svalbard in the same manner as before, but it represented a temporary lack of redundancy.

The analysis of the failure indicated a shunt failure in the cable causing loss of power to some of the signal repeaters. Through a workaround applying an alternate power supply to the damaged cable, the redundancy was restored during the evening of January 18th, 2022. This minimizes the operating risk until final cable repair can be performed probably in the February 2022 timeframe, depending on the availability of the cable vessel and the necessary weather conditions.

POC at Space Norway: Dag H Stølan, Head of Infrastructure, +4740029601/ dhs@spacenorway.no

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Space Norway to provide satellite-based Arctic broadband

Space Norway will cooperate with the satellite operator Inmarsat and the Norwegian Ministry of Defence to offer mobile broadband coverage to civilian and military users in the Arctic. Two satellites will be built by Northrop Grumman and are scheduled to be launched by SpaceX in late 2022. The ground station will be established in North Norway and ensure Norwegian control of this critically important capability.

“This will be a milestone for people in the Arctic who have very limited or no broadband access in the region,” says Jostein Rønneberg, Space Norway ́s CEO.“We are building a robust communications capability in an area strategically important to Norway and our partners. This will be vital for surveillance, fishery control and rescue operations in the vast sea area that is under Norwegian control, and will significantly improve our ability to operate in the High North”.

Space Norway, a limited liability company, owned by the Norwegian government, has established a new subsidiary company, Space Norway HEOSAT AS, to manage the program and operate the two satellites together with Kongsberg Satellites Services in Tromsø, Norway. The program is fully financed with customer agreements in place for the service life of the satellites.

“After a multi-year dedicated effort, we are both proud and happy to have closed customer agreements with Inmarsat and with the Norwegian and US militaries”, says Program Director Kjell-Ove Skare. “This is an exciting collaborative effort, which ensures a cost-effective solution for all parties. Now we are eager to start the real work of building the satellites and the ground stations. We look forward to providing the world’s first and only mobile broadband service in the Arctic region, something which has long been an important objective for the Norwegian authorities.”

Both satellites will be launched in late 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket into a Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO), which will provide full coverage from 65 degrees North, which in practical terms is the area North of the Arctic Circle. Each of the two satellites will carry multiple payloads, and the system is scheduled to be operational for at least 15 years, with users able to switch between current geostationary satellites and the HEO satellites. Each satellite will have a mass of 2000 kg and provide six-watt power through their sun arrays.

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