WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force announced Nov. 28 it delivered the second and final military communications payloads that will launch in 2023 on Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission known as ASBM.

The first Enhanced Polar System Recapitalization (EPS-R) payload was delivered in June. Both payloads are scheduled to launch to highly elliptical orbits on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The EPS-R payloads were built by Northrop Grumman at its Space Park campus in Redondo Beach, California.

“The EPS-R satellite program will provide vital protected satellite communications to the warfighter in the increasingly important arctic region,” said 2nd Lt. Clayton Lieberman, payload integration  and test lead at the Space Systems Command.

The ASBM mission also includes communications payloads for the Norwegian Ministry of Defense and for British satellite operator Inmarsat. The EPS-R are Extremely High Frequency Extended Data Rate payloads that will provide secure communications services.

The EPS-R satellites and ground system will be operated by the U.S. Space Force but the primary users of the service will be the U.S. Navy’s surface and subsurface fleets, and Coast Guard units operating in the north polar region.  

The two EPS-R payloads will augment two existing Enhanced Polar Systems satellites also made by Northrop Grumman. The company also is updating the ground segment.

The project has been hailed by U.S. defense officials as an example of international cooperation on space programs.

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...