KSAT Lite - The NewSpace Ground Station Network
Lately, there has been a lot of attention to the need for new, innovative and low cost ground station services catering to the needs of the emerging NewSpace smallsat market. More streamlined and transparent operations, more geographical locations optimized for constellation configurations and, above all, reduced costs– these are some of the changes deemed necessary.
KSAT couldn’t agree more. So we did it. KSAT’s new ground station network for the NewSpace market already exists and it’s already serving a number of customers. THE global ground station network for serving the SmallSat segment is called KSATlite – it’s agile, it’s cost efficient, it’s adapted to the needs of the SmallSat users, it’s simple to use……and it’s here!
Why did we build it? Well, we have been in the business for a very long time and we have during the last couple of years worked closely with some of the main players in the SmallSat community. We pride ourselves above all on our ability to listen to our customers, and we are now ready to assist the SmallSat community to transform great ideas into great business.
Small Satellite constellations in the field of earth observation can produce incredible amounts of data. The commercial value of this data is not only determined by the content but also by the latency between data acquisition and information delivery to a paying customer. It is as simple as that: The fresher the downloaded data, the higher its commercial value. As a consequence of this a fine-meshed network of ground stations enabling frequent access to satellite data downlinks is needed.
Considering that most smallsats operate in high-inclination low-altitude polar orbits, a specific combination of geographic locations solves most needs for low latency data downloads. Two locations near the poles - one north, one south - in combination with a distributed network of stations in mid-latitude and equatorial areas guarantee frequent satellite access. The equatorial stations also solve the need for frequent data access of satellites in low-inclination orbits. But, NewSpace being NewSpace, the capability must also be available at a cost point allowing the users to market their data product at a competitive price. Also, the number of antennas on each of the ground station sites must match the need for frequent contacts for the large numbers of satellites in each constellation.
Already in 2013, when the SmallSat boom was just emerging, KSAT identified the need for cost-efficient high-proficiency ground station services. Our customers wanted seamless data transfer from the satellite to the customer: nothing new, we do that already. World-class sites for high and low-inclination orbits – we have them, all the infrastructure is there.
The need for lower costs, well that’s a different story. The cost of ground station services is, among other things, a function of antenna size, operating environment and desired reliability. The latter two are “givens”: our sites are the best for LEO orbits and no commercial company would want to work with unreliable equipment (that’s a quick way to lose customers also in the SmallSat environment). There is no free lunch – something has to give and the antenna size is the ticket to reduced prices. Enter KSATlite.
The KSATlite Service offers access to small diameter antennas at the most desirable locations for ground stations on the globe providing S, X, our industry-first Ka band services and complementary UHF services. The KSAT pole-to-pole network consisting of Svalbard at 78 deg Northern latitude and Troll at 72 deg Southern latitude enables access to most LEO satellites every 45 minutes. In addition, KSAT has expanded the network with complementing sites globally which further improve latency and access time. This combination of polar and mid-latitude stations guarantees ideal coverage for both SSO and ISS orbits. All antennas and integrated data deliveries to the users are monitored and controlled from a centralized operation center at the KSAT HQ in Tromsø, Norway acting as single Point of Contact for the complete network including the communications solutions for data transfer to our customers.
With this automated network we have managed to design the industry-leading NewSpace ground station service. We believe that we support more small satellite passes per month than any other entity in the world at an affordable cost. We manage to do so by making available our well-proven, reliable site infrastructure to the NewSpace community.
So don’t be put off by our experience. Use it to your benefit and enjoy an affordable access to your satellites. Reliable. Anywhere. Anytime.