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Andøya Spaceport, the first launch base for small satellites in Europe, has officially opened

The new spaceport makes Norway one of the few countries with its own launch capabilities.

Written by
Berit Ellingsen
November 23, 2023
Kronprins Haakon besøkte Andøya Spaceport under åpningen av den nye romhavnen.
Kronprins Haakon besøkte Andøya Spaceport under åpningen av den nye romhavnen.Credit: Andøya Spaceport / Isar Aerospace

Andøya Spaceport on Andøya in Northern Norway was officially opened Thursday the 2nd November 2023.

The new spaceport was inaugurated by H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon, during a ceremony with Norwegian and international guests, as well as the local community of Andøya present.

Andøya Spaceport is the first operational spaceport in continental Europe, and will become the first launch site of the European launch service company Isar Aerospace.

The launch site is located at Nordmela and is in the final stages towards operating capability.

More about the official inauguration here.

The right technology and right market

- Andøya Spaceport is the result of a long-term national ambition, says Christian Hauglie-Hanssen, Director General of the Norwegian Space Agency. He was also a guest at the opening of the new spaceport.

Den første oppskytingen fra Andøya Spaceport blir for det europeiske firmaet Isar Aerospace.

The first launch from Andøya Spaceport will be done with the European company Isar Aerospace.

Illustration: Andøya Spaceport / Isar Aerospace

- Launching satellites from Andøya is something that has been discussed since the mid-1990s. Now the time has finally come, with both the right technology and the right market for such launches, as well as an organization continuing the heritage of launches at Andøya, says Hauglie-Hanssen.

Sounding rockets for research and technology testing have been launched from Andøya since 1962. This made Norway one of the first space nations in the world.

Suitable location, weather and infrastructure

- The new spaceport must be regarded in this historical context, but also in relation to the location, which is very suitable for launches, says Hauglie-Hanssen.

From Andøya, satellites quickly reach polar orbits, and sounding rockets for research can be launched into the northern lights and atmosphere over the North Pole.

Despite Andøya’s location at 69 degrees north, the climate is mild, neither too hot nor too cold, and without too much wind for launches.

Moreover, the transport infrastructure necessary, such as a harbour for larger ships and a long runway for larger aircraft, are already in place at Andøya.

Significant for both the community and the region

Andøya Space is the first launch base in Europe for lofting small satellites. The new spaceport makes Norway into one of the few countries in the world with launch capabilities from its own soil.

- Thus, Norway will be regarded internationally as an important space actor, with a strategic link to both defense and security, says Hauglie-Hanssen.

The new spaceport will also have an impact on the local community and the region.

- The hope is that Andøya Spaceport will provide more jobs, both directly and in the local community, and also as a result of increased business development and innovation in the region, and through a general increase of attention and tourism, says Hauglie-Hanssen.

A new innovation center for high-tech companies and a special visitor center for tourists are planned on Andøya.

The Norwegian Space Agency congratulates Andøya Spaceport

Andøya Spaceport is the first launch base for satellites in Europe, but will not be the only one. Several other European countries are developing their own launch sites for small satellites.

- Kiruna in Sweden and locations in Great Britain have some of the same advantages for launches to polar orbits as Andøya, and are thus the immediate competitors to the Norwegian spaceport, says Hauglie-Hanssen.

But also already established spaceports, such as the large European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana in South America, will eventually offer launches with smaller vehicles.

- The Norwegian Space Agency has contributed to various parts of the development process of Andøya Spaceport. Today was Andøya Spaceport's big day and we joined in on the celebrations, concludes Hauglie-Hanssen.

For more information

Marianne Moen – Director of Communication – Norwegian Space Agency – 480 63 743