The Norwegian Space Agency has announced the successful launch of the NorSat-3 maritime tracking smallsat, built by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) in Toronto, successfully launched on April 28, 2012, aboard Arianespace‘s Vega Flight VV18 from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana — this is the 17th SFL satellite launched within the past eight months.
NorSat-3 carries two instrument payloads. The primary device is an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver that acquires messages from civilian maritime vessels to provide information on ship locations and marine traffic.
The smallsat is also equipped with an experimental navigation radar detector developed by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) to augment the AIS receiver.
Combining a navigation radar detector and AIS receiver will potentially provide much better maritime awareness for the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Armed Forces and other maritime authorities. Detection of navigation radar from ships will provide the ability to verify the accuracy of received AIS messages and to detect vessels whose AIS messages have not been received.
SFL developed the 16.5 kg NorSat-3 smallsat on the company’s space-proven, Next Generation, Earth Monitoring and Observation (NEMO) platform,under contract to the Norwegian Space Agency, with funding from the Norwegian Coastal Administration. SFL also built the NorSat-1 and -2 maritime tracking smallsats now on-orbit and the firm is currently developing the NorSat-TD (Technology Demonstrator) satellite that is slated for launch in 2022.
“SFL congratulates Norway on its leadership in space-based maritime traffic monitoring,” said SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee. “NorSat-3 was contacted shortly after launch and is healthy. Commissioning is underway.”
Other launches of SFL-built satellites in just the past eight months include missions developed for the Dubai-based Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the United Arab Emirates, GHGSat Inc. of Canada, HawkEye 360 of the U.S., Space-SI of Slovenia, and a Canadian-based telecommunications company.
SFL offers a complete suite of smallsats that satisfy the needs of a broad range of mission types from 3 to 500 kilograms. Dating from 1998, SFL’s heritage of on-orbit successes includes 69 satellites and distinct missions related to Earth observation, atmospheric monitoring, ship tracking, communication, radio frequency (RF) geolocation, technology demonstration, space astronomy, solar physics, space plasma, and other scientific research. In its 23-year history, SFL has developed a variety of satellites that have achieved more than 144 cumulative years of operation in orbit. These smallsat missions have included SFL’s trusted attitude control and, in some cases, formation-flying capabilities. Other core SFL-developed components include modular (scalable) power systems, onboard radios, flight computers, and control software.