Space Norway has awarded US-based global defence technology company Northrop Grumman a contract to develop the country’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM).
The company will develop, build and integrate two satellites and develop ground infrastructure to provide satellite broadband for civilian and military purposes to the Norwegian High North.
The satellites will carry key equipment for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence and the British telecommunications company Inmarsat. The satellites will also hold US Air Force equipment for their Enhanced Polar System-Recapitalisation (EPS-R) programme designed to maintain the security of communications systems in the Arctic.
Northrop Grumman sector vice president and general manager of space systems said: “This contract award marks our first mission with Space Norway and we appreciate the confidence they have in our capabilities to deliver high-quality communication satellites.
“By using our flight-proven GeoStar platform coupled with our end-to-end payload integration capabilities, we are eager to demonstrate our ability to provide innovative solutions that regularly exceed our customer’s mission needs.”
Space Norway CEO Jostein Rønneberg said: “This will be a milestone for people in the Arctic who have very limited or no broadband access in the region.
“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 programme director Kjell-Ove Skare added: “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
“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.”
Space Norway is owned by the Norwegian government. The satellites are scheduled to be launched by SpaceX in 2022 using the Falcon 9 rocket.
The normal mission lifetime of Northrop Grumman is over 15 years, with the pair of satellites set to orbit the Earth in order to give 24/7 access to communication systems.
Earlier this year Russia launched an Arctic satellite the Arktika-M to measure weather and climate in the Arctic Circle. Russian and Western are increasingly developing infrastructure in the Arctic as the effects of climate change open up new shipping routes and the possibility of oil exploration. With the US Congress calling for an Arctic port in a recent military bill.