Tuesday June 23 2015 7 INDUSTRY REMOTE SENSING Europe trip lands new deals for Inuvik satellite facility Space agencies eyeing NWT as most secure global remote sensing site By MEAGAN WOHLBERG A recent trip to Europe to rallyinvestmentintheNorth- west Territories burgeoning satellite facility was made worthwhile by several major new commitments to infra- structure and nancing ac- cordingtoNWTFinanceMin- ister Michael Miltenberger. Miltenberger Premier Bob McLeod and numerous other delegates from the territory visited Norway Sweden Italy and Germany from June 7 to 12 to obtain commitments from various governments and space agencies toward Inuviks fledgling satellite remote sensing station. Part of the lobbying effort was to advertise that over one-third of the 1200-km Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link MVFL which will connect Inuviks satellite facility to a high-speed information network has been installed. European agencies had said building such a bre-optic connector was a condition for their interest in the region. Thistripwasinsomecases tocementtherelationshipthat wasstartedacoupleyearsago when we were over there say- ingweweregoingtobuildthe line.Theywereinterestedand watching carefully Milten- berger said. Now its under construction and were going tohitthedeadlineoflightingit upthesecondquarterof2016 andothercountrieshavemade theirdecisionthattheyrecom- ing on board. The tour resulted in in- creased investments from Sweden which already has infrastructure in Inuvik in the form of another sat- ellite dish commitments from Germany and the Eu- ropean Space Agency of an enhanced presence in Inu- vik and strong interest from Italy in becoming involved. It also brought Norway on board for the rst time with a newdealthatevenonitsown madetheentiretripworththe cost Miltenberger said. They were looking at Prudhoe Bay but when we met with them they told us they had made their de- cision and Inuviks their decision. Theyre going to be putting satellites on the ground there he said. That alone makes the trip worthwhile. Norway will be install- ing four smaller dishes and a large 13-metre dish. The larger dish costs around 5-7 millionwhilethesmallersat- ellite dishes cost around 2-3 million. The Inuvik facility opened in 2010 and currently has three 14-metre antennas in operation. Site work for a fourth dish is underway and a fth dish is planned for springsummer 2016. Though Miltenberger has known for some time the potential Inuvik holds to become a leading global remote sensing hotspot he said the excursion was an eye opener in terms of the proximity to the remote sens- ingfacilityinKirunaSweden. What I hadnt really real- ized before is that Svalbard is too close to Russia which is where the Norwegians are and so is Kiruna he said. That security factor has really played in Inuviks favour. MuchoftheEuropeaninterest isinbeenguptheInuvikfacil- itys capabilities so that it isnt just a downloading centre but willhavethecapacityforimme- diateinformationprocessingon the ground. Miltenberger said developingthecapacitywillbea steeplearningcurvefortheter- ritory but will be facilitated in part by the Europeans. Werenotmatureyetwere justgettingtheinfrastructure in place Miltenberger said. WerenowintheITbusiness the knowledge business and wehavetostayveryconnected with these folks. Weve got to catchup.Wereanoilandgas resource development area and when you look at the complexityandtheamountof money - literally hundreds of billions that are spent in the remote sensing business - we have a huge opportunity but were like in kindergarten and weve got to progress fast because theyre lining up and coming into town. Miltenbergersaidcountries asfarasJapanareliningupto setupinfrastructureinInuvik now that the MFVL is on its way to being nished. When compared to Kiruna where the industry has generated 400 jobs and 150 million a year it has huge implications for the town of 5000. Big countries strong powerful countries with huge spaceprogramstheyallwant to come to Inuvik he said. This is all good news. Its a growthpotentialitsaknowl- edge-based industry thats not tied to the resource sec- tor. All these things are there for us to take advantage of. geopolitical value of the small NWT town. HesaidtheEuropeanSpace Agency expressed concern about the shared jurisdiction of Norways Svalbard with Russia which is also in close The site that is the safest thats going to evolve into the major site is going to be Inuvik because its in Can- ada its well away from any risk of conict where data or sites could be compromised. Big countries strong powerful countries with huge space programs they all want to come to Inuvik. NWT Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger PhotoscourtesyofGNWT GNWT delegates sign an agreement with members of the German Aerospace Centre. NWT Premier Bob McLeod right meets with Alexander Kaptein of Airbus Defence and Space.