– We are now giving the green light to establish the launch base in Andøya, and Andøya spaceport will receive a total of 365 million Norwegian kroner, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, Friday.
It’s a lot of money. But what does that really mean for the Norwegian space industry?
One thing is the new functionality that such an organization brings, but that’s not all:
It is important to look at this from an extended perspective because it answers several things.
This is what Christian Hoogely Hansen, CEO of the Norwegian Space Centre, said.
The first European country
There are many players developing missiles that can be used, but there are a few places where they can be launched.
– Andoya means that we are ready to become the first European country to launch from its territory, as he says and continues:
Another important perspective is that more and more small countries are becoming space nations. Norway now has five satellites that meet national needs, but we now have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with other countries.
The third aspect that Hauglie-Hanssen points out is that it is important for Europe to have its own launching capacity.
– This gives Europe strategic points, which I think are important. In an interview with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Andøya, I was also interested in focusing on this element.
Internationally, Norway is not a big space country. But the Norwegian space industry consists of about 40 large and small companies that sell their services all over the world. The industry consists of everything from launching parts and equipment to satellites, to making money from satellite data. The total turnover is around NOK 8 billion annually.
It is certainly possible that now the volume of sales will be greater, and that Norway will now take a larger and more important position.
Traditionally, large, expensive satellites are expected to face competition from smaller and cheaper satellites. This is due to the fact that technology is becoming smaller. There is a lot to be gained from simplifying this with smaller satellites, especially for those who go in polar orbits.
Here’s what Knut Robert Fossum, head of research at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS) says, and continues:
– If expectations come true, new launch rules will be needed to launch small satellites.
This is exactly where Andøya’s new launch pad comes in.
– With the infrastructure that Andøya has, the chance should be very good for the base in Andøya to be very competitive and important internationally, says Roger Birkeland.
He is a researcher in the Department of Electronic Systems at NTNU.
He has an advantage in racing
Hauglie-Hanssen knows that Norway has an advantage, despite the fact that we are small.
– We are well coordinated. Authorities, industry and the national customer segment are good at talking to each other. It gives credibility – and Norway has great credibility in what we do internationally, he says and continues:
– This gives us the opportunity to address the large institutional market. Then we talk about the European Union, the European space agencies and NASA. We have the capacity – and they can call us if they want these satellites.
The race continues
Although there is funding, the European space race is far from over.
Andøya’s first satellite launch is expected during the third quarter of 2022. But Scotland and Sweden also aim to send satellites into orbit in the same year.
In addition, Portugal is working to become the main headquarters for satellite launches in Europe.
But Andøya has an advantage, at least compared to Scotland and Portugal. It is located in an area with low traffic airspace.
– You don’t have to take into account the heavy European air traffic. In addition, he shoots over the open sea – which is positive in terms of safety. This and other things mean that people internationally also see Andøya as having an advantage, says Hauglie-Hanssen.
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