SDA tests communications network with Norway


COLORADO SPRINGS – The Space Development Agency is working closely with Norway to test the communications network underpinning its constellation.

SDA is installing a radio-frequency antenna in northern Norway and testing Link 16, an encrypted tactical data protocol used in NATO radios, with Norwegian forces.

“We’ll be able to do our command and control through Norway,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said April 10 at the 39th Space Symposium here.

SDA has ground stations in Alaska, Pennsylvania and other U.S. locations to provide communications for the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.

The RF antenna in Norway is helping SDA achieve “a good geographic distribution around the globe so we can have frequent contacts with our constellation,” Tournear said. Plus, Norway’s northern latitude is important for communicating with SDA’s polar-orbiting constellation.

Upcoming Tests

Norway also is working with SDA to conduct tests this summer of Link 16.

“We’ll be demonstrating Link 16 from space directly into their territory to their platforms, their aircraft and their ground units,” Tournear said. “They’ll be able to talk directly to us, with Link 16, to our Tranche 0 satellites that are in orbit now.”

SDA conducted similar Link 16 testing last year with an unnamed Five Eyes partner.

In Space Symposium remarks, Tournear also reported progress in Link 16 demonstrations.

SDA initially demonstrated space-to-ground communications with Link 16 in November. At the time, the network was able to connect about 50 percent of the time satellites were overhead and remain connected for about 30 seconds.

Now, SDA is getting connectivity on 100 percent of satellite passes “and we have roughly 10 minutes of conductivity, which is essentially limb to limb as the satellite goes over,” Tournear said. “So, it’s working exceptionally well.”

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