Norway Launches Innovative AISSat-1 Spacecraft

“We are very pleased to see that the launch was a success”, says Bo N. Andersen, Director General at the Norwegian Space Centre.

AISSat-1 was launched in an Indian PSLV rocket from Sriharikota in India 12 july 03:52 UTC. The satellite is placed in a polar orbit with an altitude of approximately 635 kilometres.

Required technology

Automatic Ship Identification (AIS) is required to be carried on all seagoing vessel of 300 grosse tons or more. Its purpose is to assist the ship navigational watch to avoid collision with other vessels as well as to allow maritime authorities to track and monitor ship movements through operation of land based AIS stations.

The land stations can in general receive VHF signals from ships at a distance of up to 40 nautical miles off the coast.

Norway is operating a chain of 39 land based stations along its coast, and most coastal states is operating or are deploying such chains.

AISSat-1 is an experimental satellite, equipped with an instrument that receives and forwards AIS signals.


Using the technology in a fully developed system will improve safety at sea for vessels in Norwegian waters. It will make it easier to identify and coordinate vessels in search and rescue operations as well as assist in monitor the transport of dangerous goods or cargo in the high seas.

“The satellite is an example on how the long term focus on Norwegian expertise creates good, innovative high technology solutions, tailor made for Norwegian conditions,” said Trond Giske, Minister of Trade and Industry at a press conference earlier this year.

AISSat-1 is equipped with technology developed and built in cooperation between the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment Kongsberg Seatex, the Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Norwegian Space Centre. It is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Kongsberg Satellites Service’s ground station at Svalbard will be used for communication.

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