The space idustry is a growth sector in Norway. The sector turnover was 5.7 billion NOK in 2010, of which 70% was exported.
The robust space industry owes its growth to an early industrial and R&D commitment, from the 1960s on. In turn, commitment has been triggered by needs. Many companies are directly or indirectly involved in the seafaring and offshore sectors, which need satellite-based services and equipment for communications, navigation and distress and rescue services.
Norwegian waters need efficient monitoring, which has created a need for radar satellite services. Norwegian companies are involved in developing and building the International Space Station, the Ariane 5 launchers, space telescopes, spacecraft for exploring other planets, Earth observation satellites, communication satellites and navigation satellites.
Space activities may benefit Norway more than other countries in Europe. Companies participating in ESA programmes have been attracted by the possibilities of synergy in development.
The Norwegian space industry sector is organized through the Norwegian Industrial Forum for Space Activities (NIFRO), which promotes co-ordination, business development and public contact.
The Norwegian Space Centre and an independent consultancy have jointly developed a method of assessing the spinoff benefits of Norwegian involvement in ESA co-operation.
ESA co-operation, as well as several other factors for assessing the effects of ESA involvement have been evolved in co-operation with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The spinoff benefit factor is based on data provided by businesses in the space sector. It has risen steadily since Norway became a member of ESA in 1987.
In 2010 the factor was 4.8, which showed that ESA involvement resulted in additional business turnover of 4.8 times as much as the total for the ESA contracts involved.