WASHINGTON — Northrop Grumman announced June 21 it delivered two satellites to Space Norway for the Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM) that seeks to provide internet connectivity in the challenging northern polar region.

The satellites, ordered in 2019, are set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California as early as mid-July. 

Built on Northrop Grumman’s GEOStar-3 bus platform, the pair will provide constant broadband coverage over the North Pole and high-latitude areas currently underserved by existing satellite networks.

In a unique collaboration, each ASBM satellite hosts payloads from multiple entities:  The U.S. military’s Enhanced Polar System-Recapitalization (EPS-R) payload for secure communications; an X-band payload for the Norwegian Armed Forces; a Ka-Band payload for commercial satellite operator Viasat, and a Norwegian Radiation Monitor payload

The U.S. Space Force noted that the EPS-R will be the first operational U.S. military payload hosted on a commercial space vehicle operated by an international partner. Northrop Grumman was responsible for the EPS-R payload and its ground station.

The two satellites, ASBM-1 and ASBM-2, are designed to operate in highly elliptical polar orbits, intersecting at the North Pole to ensure comprehensive coverage. Both were manufactured at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Dulles, Virginia.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...