Satnews Daily
February 12th, 2018

Norway Comes to California, as KSAT Thinks Big About Small Sats and Settles in Silicon Valley 

Norway's Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) comes to California with the establishment of an office in Silicon Valley. The methodology is to be even closer to the fast growing 'new space' industry with the business of satellite ground stations. The office officially opened during the week of the Satnews Publishers' international SmallSat Symposium in Mountain View. The conference has become one of the largest within the New Space industry, with more than 2,000 visitors participating. 

U.S. Sales Director,
Stig-Are Thrana

The Norwegian company is aiming to provide faster and more closely integrated support on the KSAT ground solutions optimized for constellations of small satellites. KSAT has twenty operational ground sites around the world, which operate as one interconnected network supporting both legacy and small satellites. The KSAT network benefits from a legacy of performance, having supported leading space agencies like NASA, ESA, and JAXA for decades. 

Rolf Skatteboe, President and CEO of KSAT said that KSAT has more than 50 years of experience from the space industry and in this time they have built up a unique ground station network for uplink, downlink, and command and control of satellites. They see KSAT's expertise and infrastructure is highly valued by the new commercial operators, and they are already providing services to many of these companies. They're pleased to expand KSAT's global footprint, not only on the ground station locations but also their physical presence. Staying close to the customers is always the most important thing. 

U.S. Sales Director, Stig-Are Thrana, has been in Silicon Valley for two years already, preparing the establishment of the office and getting closely connected in the market. 

U.S. Sales Director, Stig-Are Thrana added that over the last five years KSAT has been working in a fast changing and dynamic space industry. By getting to know the market needs really well, they have developed new and tailor-made services, putting themselves in prime positions to support the New Space industry.

Together with Katherine Monson, who has joined the KSAT team in August after leading the Ground Station department for Spire Global – the team is ready for growth, looking to hire at least one more person this spring. 

Silicon Valley's mentality has fully entered the space industry and the emphasis is now on fast development and the use of cheaper off-the-shelf components for satellites, leveraging developments in the mobile and PC industry. In addition, innovative technology within Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is making it possible for satellite owners and operators to process large amounts of data (big data) in different and better ways than before. Aspects of business as usual are challenged, as new commercial companies supported by venture capital are constantly emerging, building aggressively to position themselves in the marketplace. 

All satellites launched need to get the data down to Earth. For KSAT, the core business is to download all this data and deliver it to the customers doorstep with low latency. As Thrana explains, that for polar orbiting satellites, KSAT´s locations in Tromsø (69 degrees North) and on Svalbard (78 degrees North) are simply unique. This is why in 10 years they have installed more than 60 antenna systems on Svalbard, and due to the fast expansion of the smallsat industry, they expect this number to rapidly increase in the years to come.