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A Down-to-earth Approach

Norway entered the space industry with its feet firmly planted on the ground. Rather than educating astronauts, the country chose to develop a high-tech space-related industry with a focus on exporting specialized products and expert services. This has paid off....

The Norwegian space industry is focused on five areas of activity: satellite communications, satellite navigation, Earth observation, space research and infrastructure. Satellite communications remains the dominant contributor to the industry’s annual turnover, accounting for approximately two-thirds of the 2002 revenues. The 2002 turnover of Norwegian space-related products and services was NOK 5.1 billion, of which 76 per cent was generated by exports. This represents an increase of 7 per cent from 2001.

telenorsatserv250x309.jpg (66231 bytes)From the geostationary orbital position at 1° W – home to the wholly owned Thor II and Thor III satellites – Telenor Satellite Broadcasting provides the satellite network supporting distribution of TV, radio programming and digital and interactive services to the Nordic market; pictured here the launch of Thor III

Facilitating Global Communications

The connection between the space industry and mobile telephone coverage in remote regions, television broadcasts from war zones, and Video on Demand is not immediately obvious. However, all of these are based on the use of satellites and satellite communications technology. Satellite communications solutions can be used to deliver bandwidth exactly where and when it is needed, regardless of geography and local infrastructure. They are therefore a logical choice for use in regions with poor landline infrastructure and as a high-speed transport medium for a wide range of IP and multimedia applications. A number of Norwegian companies are working hard to meet the exponentially increasing demand for satellite broadcasting and satellite broadband infrastructure, consumer and professional products and services.

Telenor is Norway’s telecommunications giant. The largest owner of Inmarsat, Telenor is the fourth-largest owner of Intelsat and has purchased a share of the new Intelsat 10-02 satellite, operational from the first quarter of 2004. Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, a division of the subsidiary Telenor Satellite Services, is the leading provider of satellite broadcasting services in the Nordic countries, and is Europe’s third largest. From the geostationary orbital position at 1° W – home to the wholly owned Thor II and Thor III satellites – the division provides the satellite network that supports the distribution of TV and radio programming and digital and interactive services to consumers in the Nordic market.

Telenor Satellite Broadcasting’s two main earth stations or teleports – the Nittedal Earth Station, north of Oslo, and the London Teleport in Central London – form the base of its satellite broadcasting and Internet satellite backbone access networks. Additional teleports are found in Northern and Eastern Europe. Nittedal provides the international satellite telecommunications gateways for operators in several African and Asian nations.

Telenor Satellite Services is a leading provider of global mobile satellite communications for land-based, maritime and aeronautical communications. The company operates the Eik Land Earth Station in Norway, and earth stations at Southbury, Connecticut, and Santa Paula, California, in the USA. Eik’s unique geographical location enables it to communicate directly with three of the four Inmarsat satellites, making it the busiest earth station in the world.

Nera is the other Norwegian heavyweight, with some 90 per cent of its turnover generated by exports. One subsidiary, Nera SatCom, is a market leader in mobile satellite communications. A major supplier to Inmarsat, all of the company’s products and land earth stations are linked via Inmarsat satellite systems. The company’s mobile satellite solutions enable critical maritime applications and include the Nera WorldPhone (which also comes in a version for land-based use), and the Nera WorldCommunicator which can be used to access the Internet and send email from anywhere in the world. A second subsidiary, Nera Broadband Satellite, offers state-of-the-art fixed wireless broadband access networks to provide the bandwidth for services such as high-speed Internet, e-business, interactive TV, Video on Demand, and videoconferencing.

A number of Norwegian companies have used their ingenuity to corner niche markets. Alcatel Space Norway is developing and supplying major processor units to Astrium, the prime contractor for Inmarsat’s fourth-generation satellites (which will feature advanced digital beamforming and onboard processing). Teamcom offers the power generation industry reliable, cost-effective remote control, monitoring and data collection within SCADA networks via the TSAT 2150 satellite communications system. TANDBERG Television is one of the few companies in the world to offer Direct To Home (DTH) satellite systems that deliver digital entertainment content to viewers’ homes; its equipment is found in 17 of the 23 compression systems worldwide. The company has also supplied NBC News (USA) with an advanced digital satellite communications system (developed in cooperation with the Raytheon Company and NBC) to support coverage from the Middle East.

Navigating by Satellite

Once ship captains guided their ships by the stars; today, captains steer vessels, aeroplanes and spacecraft by satellite. The market for professional satellite navigation solutions continues to grow as satellite-based services form the primary method for steering and positioning, surveying reference and time reference. The market for satellite navigation technology for consumer products is also expanding as more and more vehicles and mobile telephones integrate such technology. As a long-time user and exporter of satellite navigation solutions, Norway is in a unique position to participate in the development and testing of new systems and equipment.

nera250x250.jpg (51351 bytes)The NeraWorldCommunicator can be used to access the Internet and send email from anywhere in the world.

EGNOS (the European Geostationary Navigation and Overlay Service) is a joint project being developed under the auspices of ESA, the European Commission (EC), and Eurocontrol (the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation), and is designed to augment the GPS satellite navigation system. Currently in a test bed phase and showing promising results, EGNOS will be operational in 2004 and is paving the way for the Galileo global satellite navigation programme. Scheduled for completion in 2008, the Galileo system will be independent but interoperative with GPS. The two systems together will further enlarge the field of use for satellite navigation, especially with regard to applications in safety-critical areas and mass-market applications in urban areas.

Furthermore, ESA has turned to the Norwegian space industry for its specialized expertise in space infrastructure and operations in polar regions. At ESA’s request, the NSC took the initiative to investigate the possibility of establishing a Galileo Sensor Station on Queen Maud’s Land. Kongsberg Seatex has now established a Galileo Test Bed Station there, which was officially opened in January 2003 and which will be a part of ESA’s global network of test bed stations.

In addition to Kongsberg Seatex, Alcatel Space Norway, the Norwegian Mapping Authority’s Geodetic Institute and Det Norske Veritas have participated in the definition phase of the Galileo programme, while other companies are preparing to take advantage of the expected need for Galileo applications and other specialized equipment and services.

Monitoring the Planet

Resource planning, pollution prevention and monitoring of ship traffic are but a few of the applications derived from data collected by Earth observation satellites. The design, manufacture and launch into orbit of these satellites have been made possible by space technology. Once again, Norway entered the playing field at an early stage, implementing satellite radar instruments to see through the veil of winter darkness and heavy clouds in order to monitor oil spills and fisheries activities, among other important tasks. Norway is among the global leaders in the creation and operational use of methods to utilize data from Earth observation satellites such as ESA’s ERS and Canada’s Radarsat satellites.

In 2002, Norway, aided by the NSC in cooperation with Kongsberg Satellite Services and Kongsberg Spacetec, entered into an agreement with Canada, giving it nearly unlimited access to the data collected by Radarsat 2, which is scheduled for launch in 2005. This agreement has already had a spin-off effect: Kongsberg Spacetec has been awarded the contract for developing and marketing a processor to handle raw data with the aim of delivering information to end-users in near-real time; Kongsberg Satellite Services stands ready to offer its data reception, distribution and analysis services to the worldwide market; and the Norwegian authorities have entered into agreements with their Canadian counterparts to provide oil spill detection, sea ice monitoring, ship detection, and other services. The year 2002 also saw the establishment of two domestic programmes to fully exploit satellite-collected data: SatHav, a maritime programme, and SatNat, a resource and biological diversity management programme.

spintro250x376.jpg (68818 bytes)The lifetime of the SOHO satellite, featuring equipment from among others AME and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, has been extended as it continues to help researchers to understand the Sun’s influence on the Earth’s climate.

Norwegian manufacturers and researchers have also played an integral role in ESA’s ambitious Envisat project. The satellite features equipment from Alcatel Space Norway, Kongsberg Spacetec, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and Norsk Elektro Optikk, and is used to measure and monitor atmospheric gases, ice coverage and movement, ocean winds and currents, oil spills, changes in seawater levels and rainforests, and more. In March 2003, the first satellite-relayed images from Envisat were received via the Artemis (Advanced Relay Technology Mission) data-relay spacecraft in geostationary orbit at ESA’s data processing centre at ESRIN, near Rome, Italy. Among other advantages, the groundbreaking use of Artemis will enable ESA to increase the amount of data acquired by Envisat, particularly via the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument. Norwegian deliveries to Artemis include advanced electronics for the payload onboard processor from Alcatel Space Norway, and an ion propulsion diagnostic package from EIDEL. Among the Norwegian institutions analyzing this data are NORUT Information Technology, Norwegian Computing Center, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI). NORUT IT is managing two major EU research projects. One of these uses Envisat ASAR data to observe ocean wave and wind parameters, and the other uses the data to study climate change based on snow and ice observations.

Norwegian research groups are also contributing to the Living Planet missions, the next phase in ESA’s Observing the Earth programme. In contrast to ERS and Envisat, Living Planet missions will be shorter, cheaper, and have a limited focus; they will also be versatile enough to meet changing public and private demands. The first two missions, CryoSat and GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-state Ocean Circulation Mission), are scheduled for launch in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and will be vital to the study of global ice coverage and ocean currents. The third mission, SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity Mission), will observe soil moisture over land and salinity over oceans, and is scheduled for launch in 2007. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace will be delivering solar cells to Goce, while Alcatel Space Norway/NewCo will be supplying a noise injection radiometer to SMOS.

Meanwhile, ESA’s Earth Observation Market Development (EOMD) programme encourages the commercialization of Earth observation products and services. The Norwegian firm Cap Gemini Ernst & Young has led one of the most successful EOMD projects, finding a commercial use for the FlowView decision support system in the hydropower industry. The company is also involved in a project for utilizing Earth observation in the production of clean energy.

From Theory to Nuts and Bolts

Space research is vital to the understanding of processes and phenomena in space and their effect on the Earth. Norway is contributing know-how, products and systems to various ESA space research programmes.

The lifetime of the SOHO satellite has been extended as it continues to help researchers to understand the Sun’s influence on the Earth’s climate as well as on the Earth’s ground-based and spaceborne navigation and telecommunications equipment. Located at the point where the grativational pull between the Sun and Earth is equal, the satellite features equipment from AME, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and Kongsberg Spacetec.

October 2002 saw the launch of the INTEGRAL satellite, which scientists hope will contribute to increased understanding of black holes and neutron stars through the fine spectroscopy and imaging of celestial gamma-ray sources. The Space Physics Section of the Department of Physics at the University of Bergen has worked on important parts of the gamma-ray telescope IBIS, helping to define the shape and appearance of the VETO instrument that averts the interference of background radiation, as well as developing the 10 electronic panels – manufactured by Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace – that coordinate the signals from the VETO detectors, among other functions.

The BepiColombo mission, undertaken in cooperation with Japan, will explore the planet Mercury to gain insight into how planets are formed. Launch is currently scheduled for 2011-2012. ESA is building one of the main spacecraft, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), which will carry instruments for close range studies. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace has been awarded the technology development contract for the High Temperature High-Gain Antenna System, which must function optimally in Mercury’s gruelling, ultra-high-temperature environment.

ESA also turns to Norwegian companies for high-tech “nuts and bolts.” Nammo Raufoss has designed, developed and now manufactures the separation booster for Ariane 5. EIDEL has delivered its solid state recorders for use onboard Ariane 5, MAQSAT and ARD, while its telemetry decoders are used in many ground systems. Prototech is designing and manufacturing mass and thermal dummies for the new Herschel Space Observatory, which is scheduled for launch in 2007. The company is also supplying advanced lightweight equipment housings to Alcatel Space Norway for the communications payload of the US AMC 15 and 16 satellites. Meanwhile Alcatel Space is working as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, delivering advanced interconnect processors for the satellites. Presens signed an agreement with ESA in 2002 to develop and qualify a combined pressure and temperature sensor for spacecraft propulsion systems. This is a strategic milestone for both Presens and ESA, as there are currently no European suppliers of high-accuracy pressure sensors for spacecraft applications.

Serving Polar Orbiting Satellites

Due to its unique geography, Norway offers unparalleled satellite services. The country’s mainland extends up to the polar circle, and its territory encompasses the Svalbard archipelago, which is situated at 78° N latitude, in close proximity to the North Pole. From Svalbard all 14 daily passes of polar orbiting satellites can be covered, making it an ideal site from which to receive satellite data and carry out telemetry, tracking and commanding (TT&C). The island group has a relatively mild Arctic climate and offers advanced infrastructure and facilities to enable engineers, scientists and satellite operators from all over the world to reside and work there.

With telecommunications activities extending as far back as 1911, Svalbard has been connected to the mainland by a national satellite network since the late 1970s. In 2003, the NSC took the next technological step, selecting Tyco Telecommunications (USA) to supply the fibreoptic Svalbard Undersea Cable System that will link the archipelago to the mainland in order to provide reliable, real-time broadband transmission of data collected by earth stations on Svalbard. Initially the system will support data collected from polar orbiting satellites owned by NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (IPO/NOAA), and it will later support other space, meteorological and environmental organizations.

svalbard400x241.jpg (55828 bytes)
To ensure that Norway fully exploits Svalbard’s unique location and its own role as a competitive supplier of expert services, Tromsø Satellite Station, Space Data Services and the Svalbard segment of Norwegian Space Centre Properties merged to form Kongsberg Satellite Services.

To ensure that Norway fully exploits Svalbard’s unique location and its own role as a competitive supplier of expert services, Tromsø Satellite Station, Space Data Services and the Svalbard part of Norwegian Space Centre Properties merged to form Kongsberg Satellite Services. The new company entered the arena on 1 January 2002, and is thriving, delivering excellent results and showing growth potential. Kongsberg Satellite Services operates the Tromsø Satellite Station at 69° N and the Svalbard Satellite Station at 78° N, which enables it to provide services ranging from TT&C to data acquisition and satellite image interpretation. Both stations play a key role in Earth observation and environmental and meteorological monitoring. For example, the Tromsø station is home to a new Envisat processor and receives huge amounts of Radarsat data, while the Svalbard station – which offers full monitoring of all 14 daily polar satellite passes – provides daily blind back-up for Envisat, support to the ERS-2 satellite, LEOP support to several Earth observation satellites, and is the site of Eumetsat’s Metop infrastructure.

Moreover, Svalbard is located in the polar cleft, providing unique opportunities for solar-particle research as well as for studies of the dayside aurora borealis against a dark background. Andøya Rocket Range, a leader in its field, facilitates this work by launching scientific balloons and rockets from its SvalRak facility.

Creating Educational Opportunities

To maintain a pool of qualified professionals, Norway has initiated a national educational programme to turn the attention of budding scientists, researchers and engineers to the opportunities offered by the space-related industry. The NSC and the National Centre for Space-related Education (NAROM) are important players in these efforts, and enjoy the support of ESA, among other organizations. NAROM operates SAREPTA, a unique online information source, satellite image bank and electronic meeting place for use free of charge by schoolchildren and teachers. NAROM also offers studies at its location at Andøya Rocket Range (ARR), enabling students to use ARR’s advanced atmospheric research facilities. Meanwhile, the NSC organizes university-level space-related studies on the Svalbard archipelago as well as sponsors a European Space Camp at ARR for secondary-school participants.

Norway’s space-related industry has achieved consistent growth year after year, thanks to the close cooperation between Norwegian government authorities, interest groups, research and educational institutions, and private companies. These have also managed to nurture Norway’s active role in Europe’s scientific, industrial and technological network, thus ensuring the continued health of the industry.