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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