Norwegian Company to Launch Surveillance Satellites to Keep an Eye on Northern Seas
06:28 GMT 02.05.2022 (Updated: 07:27 GMT 02.05.2022)
Although the company itself presented the project as commercial and emphasised a growing market for monitoring data, pundits have argued that data that has been gathered will be shared with NATO.
Norwegian tech business, Kongsberg, has announced plans to launch its own satellites so that it can monitor, among other things, seas in the North.
A total of three satellites will give Kongsberg the opportunity to see which ships are in the area of the northern seas. In particular, ships wishing to remain hidden by switching off identification equipment will be exposed.
The monitoring data will be sold on the commercial market. Although Norwegian authorities are seen as a natural customer, other countries may also be interested.
“We see a commercial opportunity, but at the same time we want to be a contributor to Norway becoming a real space nation and taking that role in the world,” Eirik Lie, president of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, told national broadcaster NRK. “The market for this type of monitoring data is here now, and there is a lot of competition to be able to deliver it,” he added, emphasising the need to launch them as soon as possible.
The Norwegian Armed Forces support Kongsberg's project with technology and software. According to pundits, the data gathered will be shared with NATO.
“Norway is NATO in the North. The geopolitical situation makes it important for us to know what is happening in these seas,” research leader Richard Olsen at the Armed Forces Research Institute told NRK.
Kongsberg's plan is to become the first commercial customer to launch satellites from the new space base that was formerly Andøya Rocket Range. Though several rockets have been fired from Andøya over the years, these were relatively small and were inadequate for placing satellites into orbit.
Whereas current American and Russian surveillance satellites are large and intricate objects that cost millions of dollars to build and launch, Kongsberg's are small and can fit in the trunk of a car.
“You do not need large satellites to do the job they are supposed to do,” Evelyn Honoré-Livermore, who leads the satellite project at Kongsberg explained. She emphasised that small satellites are cheap, and it only takes a short time to build new ones. “We want many satellites, and by keeping them small we can adopt new technology quickly,” she added.
Founded in 1814 and headquartered in the city with the same name, Kongsberg is a technology group with some 7,000 employees that supplies high-technology systems to customers in the merchant marine, defence, aerospace, offshore oil and gas industries, and renewable and utilities industries.