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Enabling Secure and Dedicated Government Satellite Communications with GovSat-1

Written on 27 Mar 2018


Patrick Biewer SES continues to expand the suite of capabilities to serve the thriving government satellite communications market, this time round with GovSat-1. The first satellite of GovSat, a public private partnership of the Government of Luxembourg and SES, features the latest technology advancements in communications security and is entirely dedicated to governments and institutions. GovSat’s CEO Patrick Biewer tells us more.

First of all, congratulations to the GovSat team. How does it feel now that GovSat-1 is operational?

This is a very important milestone for GovSat, and the beginning of a new era in satellite communications for governments around the world. With GovSat-1, we made the capabilities of the national programmes accessible to a broader spectrum of governments. In other words, they can get secure and robust end-to-end communication services from us, and protect their nations without launching their own, quite costly, satellite programmes. The connectivity established by GovSat-1 enables critical communications over such important geographical areas as Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and provide extensive maritime coverage over the Mediterranean and Baltic seas, and the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

To make this happen, our team and partners involved in the project have been working hard over the past three years to develop and put in place the space segment and ground infrastructure. We’ve delivered it fully on schedule. Following the successful launch of GovSat-1 earlier this year, the satellite has undergone extensive testing, and entered into operational service mid March.

GovSat-1 is a game-changer. Can you expand how it is different from other offerings for government and institutional customers?

In the situation when cyber threats are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, resiliency and robustness of the communications capabilities are absolutely paramount. GovSat-1 was devised with this in mind, and has an additional level of security, compared to traditional satellites. GovSat-1 is equipped with anti-jamming features, encrypted telemetry and control, and uses secure frequencies. We’ve also ensured that the satellite and services we provide comply with necessary regulations.

Unlike traditional satellites, the frequencies GovSat-1 is using are in X-band and military Ka-band. GovSat-1 provides the most powerful and flexible X-band capacity available. This frequency is reserved for governments and institutions, and is ideal to establish secure and robust satellite communication links. The secure communication links enabled by high-powered military Ka-band beams are for smaller high-throughput VSAT terminals and are ideal for mobility applications, such as Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions and various border surveillance applications, including maritime.

It is important to note that GovSat-1 is operated from our Secure Mission Operations Centre in Luxembourg. This is a dedicated facility that ensures 24/7 operations, with security-cleared personnel that can handle classified information up to NATO/EU and LUX SECRET. GovSat-1, together with our Secure Mission Operations Centre, forms one of the most reliable and secure satellite communications capabilities for governments available on the market.

What are the main applications that GovSat-1 serves?

This is a multi-mission satellite with high-powered and fully steerable spot beams for multiple government missions. These can range from supporting defence and security applications to civil protection and humanitarian applications. Furthermore, the satellite boasts high complementarity to dedicated national systems where needed, and is in many aspects technically interoperable with them. GovSat-1 is well suited to provide connectivity for various types of land, maritime or airborne government applications, connect institutional sites and support rapid response communications.

Which customers are you serving on the new satellite?

Beyond the use foreseen by the Luxembourg Government in the frame of its NATO commitments and as part of its defence and security policy tools, GovSat-1 is involved in delivering communication services to a number of governmental customers. Overall, the satellite is devised to provide services to NATO countries and its allies, and is available to be used by the UN, EU and other international organisations and institutions.

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Written on 27 Mar 2018

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