Virgin Orbit is scheduled to launch the first Dutch military nanosatellite in mid-March, marking the Netherlands MoD’s first steps into the space domain.
NATO already underlined the importance of the use of space in late 2019, declaring it to be an operational domain. The Dutch MoD’s ‘Defence Vision 2035’ describes, among other things, the use of space as an indispensable link within information-driven armed forces.
In cooperation with Dutch industry and knowledge institutions, a decision has been taken to explore scalable and affordable capacities for the military use of space. Nanosatellites, slightly bigger than a milk carton, are less expensive than traditional larger satellites and can be launched on a bigger scale, resulting in a less vulnerable, more redundant system. BRIK-II is a nanosatellite whose partners seek to demonstrate such a satellite is effective for relevant military information and communication applications.
The BRIK-II construction underlines the innovative abilities that Dutch industry and institutions are capable of in developing relevant military and/or dual use capacities. Innovative Solutions in Space (ISISPACE), located in Delft, is the nanosatellite designer and integrator.
The Dutch aerospace research institute, Royal NLR, has developed new technologies that will be put into practice on the BRIK-II – which is named after the first aircraft ever to enter service with the military in the Netehrlands, in 1913. With a miniaturized payload, in the field of signal intelligence, the satellite can detect radio signals from space and locate the location of the source on the earth’s surface.
Furthermore, there is collaboration with the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and on an international level with the University of Oslo.