Norway: Dutch Hiber and Norwegian KSAT have announced a new long-term partnership to create a state-of-the-art and reliable ground station infrastructure for Hiber’s Low Power Global Area Network (LPGAN), named Hiberband. The first two satellites of the Hiberband constellation (Hiber One and Hiber Two) will be launched in the last quarter of this year.
The new ground station network starts with a redundant network with two stations; one on top of Hiber’s Research and Development Centre in Delft, the Netherlands and one on Svalbard in Norway.
The ground stations use motorized 4.5m Cobham S-band antennas, that will receive the data messages from Hiber’s satellites. Both stations also have UHF-VHF antennas for the constellation Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C) and are connected to the Hiber Mission Control Centre in Delft. Both antenna systems are extremely robust and built to last for the coming decade.
Creating a global network of super-efficient, super-affordable satellites and modems, Hiber has selected KSAT as the ideal partner in this innovative project. “As a global Internet of Things connectivity provider it is extremely important for Hiber to guarantee a high quality of service to our customers worldwide. We designed our ground station infrastructure therefore with built-in redundancy to provide a highly reliable service, and our partnership with KSAT provides that.” Says Maarten Engelen, co-founder and CTO of Hiber.
KSAT’s Svalbard Ground Station is uniquely located at 78°North, close to the North Pole, which optimizes contact time for communication with the Hiber satellites that fly in a polar orbit. Engelen continues: “The Hiber satellites will pass our Svalbard station up to 14 times a day, providing us additional download capacity. Something that will be essential when our full satellite constellation is in place”.
“At Hiber we have a start-up mentality and has found the same to be the case with KSAT. They are perfectly set up for supporting a smallsat-company like ourselves, offering the needed flexibility both in solutions and in mindset, so it’s a very good combination” says Laurens Groenendijk, co-founder and CMO of Hiber.
KSAT has introduced KSATLite, a global integrated ground network optimized for SmallSats and Smallsat constellations. Building on the foundation of expertise that KSAT has acquired through fifty years of ground station service operations, KSATLite is able to leverage many of the key strengths of the existing infrastructure. “The KSATLite network consists of dedicated, high quality smaller antennas currently taking more than 10,000 smallsat passes per month. It’s brilliant in it’s simplicity; a high degree of automated operations and standardization meaning that if a satellite is compatible with one antenna on the network, it is compatible with the whole network. In this case it means that the total capacity of the Hiber system can relatively easily be extended”, says Rolf Skatteboe, President and CEO of KSAT.
The Hiber ground station infrastructure is not only designed to provide a high-quality service, it is also highly scalable to deal with the increasing traffic volume of millions of IoT terminals worldwide. Extending the number of satellites and ground stations will thereby not only grow the total traffic capacity of the Hiber system, it will in the future also allow for higher service levels.
Beginning with a once per day service with the Hiber One satellite, the service level will go up to 100 messages a day once the network has expanded the number of satellites and ground stations in the coming years.
“We are extremely happy we have partnered with an experienced partner like KSAT”, says Maarten Engelen. “Space segment and ground segment are both crucial for an optimal Hiber network, and there is no more experienced ground station partner in the world than KSAT. Especially when it comes to managing a constellation of cubesats in polar orbits. Depending on demand we will launch even more satellites in the years to come, growing our constellation and that is exactly why the scalability that KSAT offers is so important for us. This kind of flexibility is unique, making it easy for us to expand. We grow ‘together’, so to speak, in this long-term partnership. With the completion of the ground station, Hiber is set to go after the launch of their satellites Hiber One and Hiber Two in the last quarter of this year.
“For KSAT it is exciting to be working together with Hiber, an ambitious start-up company that focuses on the emerging Internet of Things market. We have found an intellectual fellowship between our two organisations, and it will be very interesting to see what the future brings” says Rolf Skatteboe. “Being able to collect large amounts of open sensor data and combining it will increase the ability to monitor the environment and events in remote areas. I have noticed that they call themselves not a Space company, but an Earth company. And their contribution will be significant.”