Space for the north

The current Government in Norway has emphasized the focus on the northern regions of Norway and the High Arctic. This focus encompasses research, environment, demographics, industrial and societal development as well as security aspects. The most visible issues concern the cohabitation of a sustainable exploitation of the renewable resources in the ocean with an environmentally sound development of the oil and gas resources in the Barents Sea. The global warming with an accelerating melting of the sea ice in the Arctic basin will lead to increased sea transport. Possibly within 25 years we will have the summer time utilization of the Trans Arctic sea route from Europe to Asia.

Norway’s large geographical area and the fact that its population is the one situated closest to the North Pole generates challenges as well as advantages and opportunities. The challenge is to manage the large area in a sound manner, while the closeness to the pole makes Norway the country with the advantage of the best coverage of its areas from satellites in polar orbit. The opportunities lie in the fact that we have a well developed space sector with experience of the issues of the far north.
The utilization of space in the North can be divided into three groups:
  • Research from and of space in the North.
  • Among a number of things this is to have the best knowledge of issues concerning global change. The combination of information from satellites, data from sounding rockets and high altitude balloons as well as ground measurements are crucial for understanding the scientific aspects of the Polar regions.
  • Space as a prerequisite for the development of the North.
  • This includes the availability of reliable weather forecasts and broadband communication as well as precision navigation and positioning. Only satellites can provide this. In addition the near real time data provided to ground stations in the North provide essential information about the environmental and territorial impact of human activity.
  • Space as business in the North.
  • Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) with its stations in Tromsø and on Svalbard provides services to satellite owners globally and is the largest space business in the North. Similarly the Andøya Rocket Range operates the dominant launch sites in the Arctic for scientific studies of the upper atmosphere. Companies like NORUT IT and Kongsberg Spacetec have a global position in their respective niche areas. These areas are closely related to the utilization of space data for monitoring of the Earth. 
The Ministry of Trade and Industry through the Norwegian Space Centre places a high priority on increasing the quality and extent of the activities in all these three groups.
None of the important issues in the North can be resolved with space alone, but few, if any, can find their resolution without the use of space. This will require a further development of the Norwegian space industry to cater for both national and international needs.
bo n. andersen
Director General of the Norwegian Space Centre
© Norwegian Space Centre

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