Home Air Norway, Netherlands award military nanosatellite build contract

Norway, Netherlands award military nanosatellite build contract

Nano satellites Birkeland and Huygens
Photo: NanoAvionics

The Dutch-Norwegian military use of space research project has awarded a contract for the construction of two nanosatellites that will weigh up to 10 kilograms and be named Birkeland and Huygens.

The two countries’ research centers selected satellite integrator NanoAvionics for the task.

Birkeland and Huygens are intended to demonstrate the concept of a space based spectrum monitoring system to geolocate radar signals.

The undertaking is part of a bilateral strategic mutual assistance in research and technology (SMART) memorandum of understanding, and will mark the first time Norway and the Netherlands are launching a formation of satellites.

The launch of the two nanosatellites is scheduled for the second quarter of 2022 when they will be placed into a polar low Earth orbit (LEO) with an altitude range of 450 to 600 km. Both will be positioned in the same orbital plane with a separation of 15-25 km, allowing the two nanosatellites to simultaneously detect emissions from radar systems.

For a polar LEO orbit of 600 km altitude, the payload antenna will be able to cover any point on the Earth’s surface at least four times per day.

According to NanoAvionics, the BROS (binational radiofrequency observing satellites) mission is the first known two-satellite system to detect, classify, and accurately geolocate radio frequency signals, including navigation radars used on ships, by combining the measurement angle of arrival (AoA) and time difference of arrival (TDOA). Simultaneous detection of pulsed radio signals by both satellites flying in tandem enables accurate geolocation during all weather conditions.

“Exchanging science, research and technology experience in this MilSpace mission is a great start for flourishing partnerships with the participating organisations,” said Vytenis J. Buzas, co-founder and CEO of NanoAvionics. “The agreement is also an example of the new cross over between commercial and military space missions. This was made possible by standardizing NanoAvionics’ bus design which allows our nanosatellites to host a wide variety of payloads for diverse applications.”