Norway's second satellite launched

AISSat-2, Norway's second national satellite, was launched on the 8th of July 2014. Like its predecessor, AISSat-1, the new satellite will monitor maritime traffic from space.

- Two AIS-satellites in orbit will ensure a continuous monitoring and safeguarding of the maritime traffic in Norwegian waters, says Bo Andersen, Director General of the Norwegian Space Centre.

AISSat-2 was lifted with a Soyuz launcher from the Russian cosmodrome in Baikonur in Kazakhstan on the 8th of July 2014.

Norway's second national satellite is identical to the first, AISSat-1, measuring 20 x 20 x 20 centimeters and weighing 6 kilos. AISSat-1 was launched on the 12th of July 2010.

Maritime traffic, fisheries, oil spill, and rescue

Both satellites monitor maritime traffic by detecting Automatic Identification Signals (AIS), which reveal a vessel's identity, position, speed, and bearing.

AISSat-2, Norway's second national satellite, launched on the 8th of July 2014 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Photo: Roskosmos

The AIS system was originally developed to prevent collisions and all vessels with a gross tonnage larger than 300 tonnes must carry AIS equipment.

AISSat-1 was the first satellite to detect AIS in real time from space.

Norwegian authorities have used the data from AISSat-1 to monitor fisheries, oil spill, the maritime traffic along the coast line and in the Arctic, to support anti-piracy operations off the African coast, and assist in rescue operations, among others.

AISSat-1 has delivered a solid view of the maritime traffic along Norway's coastline, around Svalbard, and the rest of the Arctic, including the Northeast Passage.

AISSat-2 was developed on the basis of the success of the first AIS satellite.

A third and fourth Norwegian satellite on the way

AISSat-1 and 2 have been developed by the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI), the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Kongsberg Seatex, and the Norwegian Space Centre. Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) provides ground station support for both satellites.

The first signal from AISSat-2 received at the satellite's ground station SvalSat outside Longyearbyen. Photo: KSAT

The price for developing and launching AISSat-2 reached NOK 12 million, but the cost of a third AIS-satellite, AISSat-3, will be lower, at NOK 8 million. AISSat-3 is already in development, with launch scheduled for 2015.

A fourth Norwegian satellite, Norsat-1, is also under construction. This satellite will carry a next-generation AIS instrument as well as two science payloads. Norsat-1 will be launched in 2016.

- The AIS satellites demonstrate Norway's capability of developing payloads and operating satellites that provide data important for security and commerce, says Andersen.