First Commercial Spaceport In Continental Europe Opens In Norway

5th Nov 2023
First Commercial Spaceport In Continental Europe Opens In Norway

Norwegian space company Andøya Space unveiled Andøya Spaceport on 2nd Novenber. Andøya now becomes the first launch site in continental Europe. Officially opened by Crown Prince Haakon, the spaceport is situated off the coast of Norway on the island of Andøya. It will host Germany’s Isar Aerospace who have exclusive access to one of the seven launchpads.

Isar is currently working on their Spectrum rocket which is at its final testing phase. To conclude its testing regime, the rocket’s last test-flight will take place at the Norwegian spaceport soon. However, details for the final trial flight and first inaugural launch are yet to be announced.   

President of Andøya Spaceport, Ingun Berget, said in a statement: “the opening of the spaceport on Andøya island marks an important milestone for Norway, European New 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 First Spaceport In Continental Europe

Andøya Spaceport is currently in its final stages of development with overall construction complete and close to “operating capability”. Andøya Space said the launch site will provide Norway with an avenue to launch from their own soil. Significantly, this offers a unique boost to Norway’s space interests, due to “very few countries capable of launching satellites from its own territory.”   

The spaceport’s location, according to Andøya Space, is optimal for achieving “launches to highly retrograde orbit inclinations”. Equally, it is also poised to plug the hole in market demand for access to sun-synchronous and polar orbits. This is due to the launch site being situated north of Norway and on a coastline, which Andøya Space noted: “[is] limited globally”. 

Once Isar Aerospace is prepared to launch, the launch site will become the first “operational orbital spaceport in continental Europa”. Andøya Space and Isar inked a 20-year launch agreement

Spectrum: “marking a crucial milestone on Isar Aerospace’s path to its first test flight”

Credit: Isar Aerospace

Isar’s launch pad was tailor-made to their specifications. That included building a mission control centre, a designated launch pad, and payload integration facilities. The spaceport will also house Isar’s two stage launch vehicle, Spectrum, which is gearing up for its final test flight.  

Isar’s market entry rocket has engendered significant attention for its orbital delivery potential. The German rocket developers said Spectrum can deliver 1,000 kg to Low-Earth Orbit and 700 kg to Sun-Synchronous Orbit. It also has nine first stage engines and one second stage engine. But above all: “[Spectrum’s] high-pressure turbopump fed engines ensure superior deployment capabilities while keeping the vehicle small and easy to handle,”  Isar said on their website.  

Acceptance Testing & Payload For Inaugural Commercial Flight

On its maiden voyage from Andøya Spaceport, the 28-metre long rocket will carry five European institutional payloads. Beforehand however, Spectrum will undergo acceptance testing to validate its stage engines in preparation for its first commercial launch.  

Daniel-Patrick Heatley, Lead Engineer at Kiruna Operations, who oversees Spectrum’s testing regime, said: “We are working on the preparations for one of the final engines we are going to test before we begin acceptance testing of engines for our first flight – and that is quite exciting.”

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