Russia Planning $1bn Arctic Communication Satellites System

A satellite communication system for highly elliptical orbits (VEO) worth 62 billion rubles ($1 billion) is planned by the Russian government as part of the program for covering the entire territory of the Arctic, Russia’s communications minister Nikolai Nikiforov has said.

The Minister made the statement at a meeting of the Presidium of the State Commission on Arctic Development. According to TASS agency, he said five new satellites are planned to be launched into orbit in the next five years to replace those spacecraft that provide communication services in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation and are already developing their resources.

“The creation of the satellite communication system of the VEO will make it possible to achieve a 100% coverage of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, Nikiforov explained.

Currently, only about 40% of the territory of the entire Arctic zone is covered by the “Express” broadcasting system. It includes 12 spacecrafts that are under the control and on the balance of the State Unitary Enterprise “Space Communications”.

According to the official, around $200 million will be needed to maintain this system for 10 years. The money is expected to be earned by providing communication services, the minister said.

Financing of the program to cover the entire Arctic with communications is estimated $1 billion, of which $940 million need to be attracted in budget subsidies.

Nikiforov noted that now there are active discussions on the technical side of the project, and to take a principled decision it is necessary to consider this issue at the cabinet level in the next few months.