50 years of satellite data


50 years of satellite data

Since the first space industry establishment in Tromsø in 1967 for research related activities, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) has grown to become a world leading and global commercial provider of satellite tracking and control, launch support and data reception.

“This is a very special milestone for Kongsberg Satellite Services. Looking back to when it all started exactly fifty years ago we’ve had an impressive and tremendous development from a handful of employees at the start to more than 160 today”, says Rolf Skatteboe, President of Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT).

KSAT has grown to be the world largest provider of ground station services for satellites. Today KSAT communicates with satellites more than 33 000 times a month. KSAT has more than 130 antennas installed on 25 different locations worldwide.

“A shining star”

As the satellites travel past the Arctic Circle, stations in the far north or far south will be able to communicate more frequently with the satellites than stations in other locations, providing much quicker access to important information, such as meteorology and other environmental parameters measured by these satellites.

The main control center is located in Tromsø, Norway. In Tromsø, KSAT currently collects satellite data from its stations worldwide – from Svalbard in the north to the Antarctic in the south.

The main station on the island of Svalbard is the largest in the world for reception of satellite data from polar orbiting satellites. This station is the only station in the world that can download data from the satellites every time they fly around the earth, (14 times per day), thus enabling rapid delivery of weather data and services like oil spill monitoring- and vessel detection to users all over the world.

Eline Oftedal from the Norwegian Industrial Forum for Space Activities states:

“KSAT has been very dedicated over very many years. They have seen opportunities and seized them and built on it. I think they are extremely good at turning around fast when the market is changing. KSAT is a shining star in the Norwegian space industry”.

The cradle of Norwegian space industry

On May 17, 1968, the team at Tromsø Telemetry Station was able to celebrate that the first support of a satellite launch from the new station in Tromsø was successful. Extensive preparations had paid off - the satellite was in orbit.

In 1967, the Tromsø satellite station was constructed in an elevated position with views of the town. As Tromsø is north of the Arctic Circle, the station is able to download data from polar orbiting satellites at almost every pass.

The establishment of space related services in Tromsø was primarily for research activities, whilst today KSAT is a world leading commercial provider of important ground station services.

“Some of the space activities cradle is here in Tromsø. 50 years ago, the first satellite receiving station was build and the main task was to communicate with polar orbiting satellites. After that, we initiated the activities at Svalbard 20 years ago. 15 years ago, KSAT was founded based on the legacy of the first receiving station here in Tromsø”, says Rolf Skatteboe.

Oil spill and vessel detection

With three interconnected polar ground stations at Tromsø, Svalbard and Antarctica, and a growing mid-latitude network, KSAT operates about 130 antennas world-wide, optimally positioned for access to polar orbits.

The Tromsø Network Operations Centre is staffed 24/7-365 days, and remotely operating facilities around the world as one single interconnected network.

Rolf Skatteboe, President of Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) at the 50th anniversary celebration in Tromsø. 

“KSAT has a unique position with our “pole-to-pole”-concept and we see significant opportunities for the continued journey of both KSAT and the Norwegian space industry as a whole”, says Skatteboe and continues.

“There has been a significant development in how we utilize space for communication and monitoring services. Space related technology and services have become increasingly important, and more recently also a frontier for commercial operators in space, for instance within the small satellite segment”.

- What can you say about the years to come for KSAT?

“The years to come are interesting. Receiving information from satellites is one thing, but using the information for important services like ship detection and oil spill detection and environmental monitoring is where we are heading. These days the quest against illegal fishing is something that we are focusing strongly on”, concludes Skatteboe.

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Ove Ronny Haraldsen

Corporate Communication Manager

+47 99 15 59 20

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