Northrop Grumman’s Latest Arctic Satellites Development Set to Transform Polar Communications

November 13, 2023
1 min read
Northrop Grumman Completes Essential Tests
The Northrop Grumman-built ASBM-1 undergoes vibration testing, at the company’s satellite manufacturing facility in Dulles, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM) is making strides in space tech. They’ve wrapped up thermal vacuum tests on two satellites, crucial for checking if they can handle space’s extreme conditions. These satellites are part of a plan to boost broadband in the Northern polar region, a project involving the U.S. Space Force and Space Norway.

Each satellite is kitted out with dual payloads: a Ka-band for Viasat and an X-Band for the Norwegian Ministry of Defense. They also carry Enhanced Polar System Recapitalization payloads for the U.S. Space Force, boosting secure, jam-resistant military comms.

Now, ASBM-1 is moving on to vibration testing, with ASBM-2 soon to follow. These tests are key to ensuring the satellites can withstand launch and orbit conditions.

There’s more to this mission than just the satellites. Northrop Grumman is also behind the Control and Planning Segment (CAPS) ground system. This system is essential for the mission’s success, helping with payload and space vehicle compatibility testing and linking up with Norway’s Satellite Operations Center (SOC). CAPS has passed its formal acceptance and is ready for activation.

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This project is a big deal in the military satellite market, which is booming. According to GlobalData, this market was worth US$8.1bn in 2023 and is expected to hit US$12.8bn by 2033. North America leads this market, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific.

Northrop Grumman’s role in this sector was further cemented with a $235m contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on October 5, 2023. They’re set to build Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) polar-orbiting satellites. These are crucial for the DoD to monitor missile threats in the polar regions, a traditionally tough area to keep an eye on from space.

Northrop Grumman’s ASBM project is a significant step in enhancing Arctic communication capabilities for both military and civilian use. With the upcoming vibration tests for ASBM-1 and ASBM-2, the project is on track to deliver robust and ready satellites for their critical roles in the Arctic.

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