Construction has finished on “the first operational orbital spaceport in continental Europe”, which is located on the remote island of Andøya in the north of the country.
Andøya Spaceport will be used to launch satellites from European commercial space company Isar Aerospace (IA).
When fully constructed, the facility will host several launch pads, with IA gaining exclusive access to the first launch site, which was built to its specifications. It includes a launch pad, payload integration facilities and a mission control centre.
The launch site will support the two-stage launch vehicle Spectrum, which is set to carry out final stage testing by IA. While the designs have been completed, the vehicle is currently in the production phase, including construction on the flight engines. The rocket stages will then have to undergo a series of tests that will verify that the systems meet all necessary requirements for flight.
IA said the Spectrum rocket will also have an entirely new propellant set, which will reduce emissions “substantially” compared to classical rockets.
The firm’s co-founder Daniel Metzler said: “Over the last five years, we have built a rocket that will help to solve the most crucial bottleneck in the European space industry – sovereign and competitive access to space.
“Together with Andøya Spaceport, our team has created an excellent piece of engineering – the first orbital launch site in continental Europe, which will bring this access to space to Norway, and back to Europe. For Isar Aerospace, this step equals entering the final stages of our path to the first flight. For Europe, it means being able to harness the power of the space platform.”
Since 1962, the island has been used to carry out around 1,200 launches of sounding rockets and long-duration balloons.
Given its location far north at a coastline, Andøya Spaceport can offer launches to highly retrograde orbit inclinations. These are favourable for orbits that synchronise with the Sun, as well as polar orbits – which the market has a strong demand for, as launch sites for these orbits are limited globally.
Andøya Spaceport president Ingun Berget said: “The opening of the spaceport on Andøya island marks an important milestone for Norway, the European space industry and our partnership with Isar Aerospace. This enables us to have the first satellite launches ever from European soil to take place from Andøya. The attendance of today’s opening by Crown Prince Haakon underlines the importance of our endeavour and puts us on the map in Europe.”
The UK also has plans to build a number of spaceports as part of plans to ramp up the domestic space industry.
Last year, construction began on the UK’s first commercial spaceport in the Shetlands, which will support three launchpads designed to send satellites into orbit.
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