Norway has opened a new spaceport on the island of Andoya, becoming the first operational orbital spaceport in continental Europe. The Andoya Spaceport aims to strengthen European countries’ capacity for launching small and medium-sized satellites into orbit. The launch base, built by the Norwegian public company Andoya Space, will eventually have multiple launch pads. It is located near the Lofoten archipelago and is expected to facilitate the launch of Spectrum, a two-stage rocket developed by the German start-up Isar Aerospace. The specific date of the first launch has not been announced yet, but Isar Aerospace plans to send a first launcher to Andoya within the year for a test flight as soon as possible.
The Arctic location of the Andoya base makes it well-suited for launching small polar or sun-synchronous satellites. Sun-synchronous satellites pass over any point on Earth’s surface at the same local solar time, which is useful for observation and meteorology purposes.
This new spaceport in Norway comes as tensions have grown with Russia, limiting Europe’s access to Russian cosmodromes and launchpads. The inauguration of the Andoya Spaceport signifies Europe’s efforts to establish its own launch capabilities.
Various European projects have competed to be the first to go into operation, including initiatives in the Portuguese Azores, Spain’s Andalusia, and the United Kingdom. However, Virgin Orbit, Richard Branson’s company in the UK, recently ceased operations after a failed attempt to launch a rocket into space from British soil.
The opening of the Andoya Spaceport marks a significant step for Norway and Europe in advancing their presence and capabilities in the satellite launch industry.
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