German rocket startup signs deal with Norwegian spaceport

Map of northern European spaceports

The German rocket startup Isar Aerospace has signed a deal to provide the Andoya spaceport in the north of Norway with a new flight tracking and safety system, to be used by all launches including Isar’s own Spectrum rocket.

The purpose of the autonomous flight tracking system is to precisely and reliably keeping track of the Spectrum launch vehicle’s position, speed and direction of travel as it ascends to orbit, which is important to guarantee Andøya Spaceport’s flight safety requirements. The objective is to further evaluate the use of the system in enabling automated flight termination functionality for launches by Andøya Spaceport’s ground system, autonomously triggering an abort of the mission if ever operational parameters of the launch vehicle are out of bounds.

This announcement today illustrates the rising competition between German rocket startups and European spaceports. Yesterday the Saxavord spaceport in Scotland and another German rocket startup, HyImpulse, announced their own launch deal. Today’s announcement is the response from Andoya and Isar.

Today’s announcement also increases the pressure in the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to get its regulatory act together. Andoya is positioning itself as a good alternative to the two new British spaceports in Scotland, as shown by the red dots on the map above, should red tape in the UK slow launches there.

Norway inaugurates its Andoya spaceport

Map of Norway showing Andoya

Norway yesterday announced the opening its new Andoya spaceport in the far north of the country, where it hopes will become a hub for the emerging new commercial launch industry.

The location is indicated by the map to the right, in the Arctic and farther north than any other planned spaceport, making it excellent for satellites going into polar orbit.

The launch base, which eventually will have several launch pads, was built by Norwegian public company Andoya Space, on a site which until now has only been used for firing suborbital scientific experiment rockets.

Spectrum, a two-stage craft capable of carrying up to one tonne and developed by the German start-up Isar Aerospace, is scheduled to be the first rocket to be launched from island which is located near the idyllic Lofoten archipelago.

If Norway’s government works better than Great Britain’s in issuing launch permits, this spaceport will steal all business from the UK’s own two spaceports being built in Scotland.