Northrop Grumman has been awarded a two-satellite construction order as part of the Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM).by Norway’s state-run firm Space Norway which is offering communications payloads on board the satellites for Norwegian Ministry of Defense, the US Air Force, as well as a leased commercial one for Inmarsat.   Both 2,000 kg mass 6kW power satellites will use the GEOStar-3 bus/platform design and will launched on a booked single Falcon 9 launch vehicle in late 2022.  The satellites will be launched into a Molniya/Tundra-style highly ellptical, highly inclined orbit which the Soviet Union and Russia have long used.  These long period orbits, allow at least one of the satellites’ communications “footprints” to reach the polar regions at any time which geostationary satellite communication footprints normally cannot reach from their near zero inclination orbital planes.

ommunications satellites in Molniya and Tundra orbits can reach the parts that other orbits cannot reach. Courtesy: Marcom/Marintek/Sintef