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From Tromsø Telemetry Station to a Satellite Data Hub

Kongsberg Satellite Service (KSAT) and their data receiving station for satellites at Svalbard, SvalSat, is the world's most used data receiving station. 

October 3, 2023
Antenner ved KSATs bakkestasjon på Svalbard.
Antenner ved KSATs bakkestasjon på Svalbard.

Both satellites and space probes from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), other space organisations, and commercial satellite operators worldwide use SvalSat.

Without the Norwegian Space Agency's connections to international users like NASA and ESA, continued financial support, and active involvement in the expansion of the ground station in Svalbard, reaching our current position would have been unattainable. Over the last decade, KSAT has significantly profited from its involvement in specific ESA programs at the national level and has successfully secured contracts in multiple EU initiatives.

KSAT was first named Tromsø Telemetry Station, and began with a single satellite data reception antenna in 1968. Tromsø Telemetry Station featured a groundbreaking technological innovation, a computer developed in Norway. It was used to download data from the ESRO-1A satellite.

ESRO-1A was the first satellite built by the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) and the second one launched. This satellite conducted research on the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and the ionosphere, featuring scientific instruments from several European countries, including Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

With ESRO-1A in a polar orbit, the Tromsø Telemetry Station played a key role in receiving data from this satellite. The Norwegian computer and other digital innovations allowed researchers to receive real-time data and coordinate measurements from the Tromsø Northern Lights Observatory with sounding rockets launched from the Andøya launch site.

The Norwegian technology was a significant success, and both NASA and the European ESRO were impressed. Consequently, the Tromsø Telemetry Station became a key station for ESRO and for polar orbit satellites in general. In 1982, some of the staff at the Tromsø Telemetry Station founded the high-tech company Kongsberg Spacetec.