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Wednesday, May 26, 2021 

Kongsberg says the company is set to play a pivotal role in the working life of a recently-activated microsatellite, the Norwegian Space Agency’s NorSat-3, launched from the European spaceport in French Guyana, which will be used by the Norwegian Coastal Administration for monitoring maritime traffic in Norwegian waters.

NorSat-3 will be sited 605km above the Earth's surface in a polar LEO (Low Earth Orbit) constellation alongside four other microsatellites. These have long been in service, and although their design life expectancy has been exceeded they are nevertheless still operating efficiently. The new 16.5kg satellite has been designed to provide next-level functionality, so it has been equipped with Kongsberg’s fourth-generation ASR x50 SAT-AIS receiver as its primary payload.

The ASR x50 is said to set a new standard in space-based SAT-AIS receivers, with its ability to detect even AIS Class B vessels. It deploys de-collision algorithms for optimal vessel detection in areas with a medium or high density of ship traffic. Its components have been selected for radiation-tolerant design principles and low power usage as well as reliability and redundancy.

A substantial onboard data storage capacity is matched with multi-antenna support, superior dynamic range and reconfigurable, in-orbit Software-Defined Radio technology, ensuring compatibility with future needs. The ASR x50 is designed for a LEO service life of more than seven years.

Meanwhile, the new microsatellite’s secondary payload consists of an experimental Navigation Radar Detector antenna and receiver, supplied by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and developed in collaboration with Kongsberg, the French space agency CNES and the German electronics company ILFA. This can detect and locate signals transmitted by civilian navigation radar systems, which will give the Norwegian Coastal Administration a more complete situational image by including vessels which are not sending AIS signals, for reasons ranging from errors and malfunctions to transponders being switched off.

“The launch of NorSat-3 represents a significant step forward in terms of the quality and quantity of the data we can receive, evaluate and share with other government organisations,” said Arve Dimmen, director for navigation technology and maritime services, Norwegian Coastal Administration. “The benefits for safer, better-informed sailing in Norwegian waters, both now and in the future, are obvious, and it’s to Kongsberg’s credit that the company’s technology should be so central to realising our aims.”

VP R&D, Kongsberg Seatex Erlend Vågsholm said: “Enhancing situational awareness for seafarers and vessel traffic controllers alike provides great benefits, and NorSat-3 is an excellent example of how microsatellites provide crucial contributions to this picture. It also shows how Kongsberg’s strong focus on microsatellite solutions is well adapted to Norwegian needs for monitoring vast ocean areas and for maritime safety at large.”

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