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Norwegian minister of Trade and Industry, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, visited Kongsberg Satellite Services’ ground station at Svalbard and highlighted the strategic importance of the station, both for Svalbard as a community and for Norway.
- First of all I have to say it’s an amazing experience to visit such an extraordinary location as this. A spectacular view, Røe Isaksen stated upon arrival at the Kongsberg Satellite Services’ (KSAT) SvalSat ground station overlooking Svalbard.

The ground station of SvalSat, located at 78°N (1200 km south of the North Pole) on Svalbard, is the most optimally located ground station in the world for satellite control and downloading data. The extreme northern location on the Svalbard archipelago, gives SvalSat its unique and favourable position. The satellite coverage at this latitude holds unique opportunities and SvalSat is the only commercial ground station in the world able to provide all-orbit-support (14 of 14 orbits) to owners and operators of polar orbiting satellites.

- KSAT is a success story and an example of how the Norwegian space industry has world leading positions. Their growth and increasing demand from customers from all over the world shows what a unique position they have. KSAT has been very important for Norway, and will continue to be so for many years to come, Røe Isaksen said. 

Close to 100 antennas by 2020
Kongsberg Satellite Services’ ground station at Svalbard has more than 40 antennas that together with KSAT’s other ground station antennas around the world service customers globally. In the next two years SvalSat plans to increase the number of antennas to close to more than 100 antennas. Station director at SvalSat, Ole Petter Storstad, highlighted the people of the station as the most important asset. 
- The geographic position and the infrastructure we have built here is of course important, but it’s the people that are crucial. We’ve built up world leading competence and operations knowledge. That makes me confident that we will continue to maintain and strengthen our strong position, Storstad stated when asked by the minister what he would point to as the most important reason for SvalSat’s growth and position.

Long-term cornerstone of Svalbard 
Røe Isaksen visited SvalSat in connection with meetings with the local community at Svalbard as the ministry is working on a strategy for business development at Svalbard. 
Located midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement with approximately 2 200 inhabitants. For many years the cornerstone of the town was the coal mining industry, but the activity has been considerably reduced later years. This has entailed a need for increasing employment in other areas. The SvalSat station is in this context an important part of the future of the Longyearbyen and Svalbard community.

- I would also like to point out the importance that the Svalbard station has for the Svalbard community. It is an important business securing long-term technology jobs with spin-off effects to the rest of the Svalbard society, Røe Isaksen said.

- A very important spin-off from the satellite activity is the fiber optical cable we were able to install to serve our customers. The high-speed connectivity brought affordable internet and communication to the island and has opened a lot of opportunity for the local population, said Rolf Skatteboe, CEO of KSAT.
- We want to be actively engaged and be part of building and maintaining a living local community in Longyearbyen. Longyearbyen is dependent on us, as we are dependent on Longyearbyen. Our policy is that all members of our team here have to live in Longyearbyen, and not commute in and out. This has been a success recipe we won’t change, Storstad concludes.

(By Johannes Dobson)

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