Category: English

English news articles

  • Building a training satellite during an internship

    Nadine Duursma is a double master’s student in Robotics and Space engineering at Delft in the Netherlands. For four months, she was a trainee at Andøya Space Education, developing a satellite training platform.

    A girl is standing up, holding a square CubeSat in her hands.
    Photo: Andøya Space Education

    The internship was not the first time Nadine visited Andøy. Five years ago, in 2019 she was one of the 24 participants in the Fly a Rocket! student rocket program through the European Space Agency. 

    – I knew about this place already, and when I saw they had an internship vacancy open, as I had come to love Norway, this would be a very nice opportunity for me. I applied and was very lucky to get the job, says Nadine Duursma smiling widely.

    Developing a satellite for training purposes

    Nadine set out to develop a CubeSat loosely based on the CanSat learning platform. The finished CubeSat will be used in a student satellite training program often referred to as AIT (Assembly, Integration and Testing). 

    – Nadine’s internship is part of an ongoing national project where Andøya Space Education works closely in collaboration with academia, industry, and other partners to offer activities for university students, explains Jøran Grande, president of Andøya Space Education.

    The CubeSat works just like a regular satellite with onboard sensors and communication systems, just not one that would work in orbit. It will be just for training and educational purposes. 

    Her new satellite measuring 10 cm x 10 cm x 10cm will be used to practice and perform AIT and cleaning procedures in a clean room

    A close-up of a girl holding a square Cube-Sat.

    – You need to have very thorough cleaning procedures when working on space equipment. First, you remove all the big particles, and then all the small particles. It is important to clean equipment that will be sent into space, as dust and humidity can damage instruments, Nadine tells us while holding the CubeSat in her hands.

    – Nadine’s work has improved several parts of the hands-on activities within our AIT program offered to university students, says Grande.

    Training programs like this are very valuable and points directly to operations at a spaceport. It gives students real experience before they dive into their space careers.

    In addition to building a satellite platform, she also spent time improving a ground station for receiving data from balloons and real satellites. She worked closely with our team and can show for great results.

    Enjoying life at Andøy

    – We focused on trying to integrate and show Nadine all the possibilities and things to do outside work by living far in the North at Andøya. This might turn out to be a small contribution to Andøya Municipality in attracting young professionals to come to live and work at Andøya where there currently are so many opportunities within the Space domain, says Grande.

    A girl stading in front of a climbing wall.

    – Coming to Andøy, leviandoy.no was helpful to me. Through it, I discovered many potential experiences, such as climbing, hiking, ice baths, biking, and ski lodging. I also did geocaching, watched the northern lights, and spotted whales. As my time here is coming to an end, I still haven’t done everything I wanted to do, like pottery class and diving, Nadine tells us. – The pace of life is more relaxing here. One day you go biking, one day you go hiking and one day you go climbing. Perhaps it’s just that freedom. I felt I had time to enjoy my stay, compared to living in a big city where people hurry, and life is more stressful. 

    A future space career

    – Now that my time in Norway is up, I will go home to the Netherlands. But not for long, as I will travel to Houston to attend a summer program at NASA, Duursma says excitedly.

    It is not Nadine’s first time in the US. She spent half a year at Princeton University earlier in her master’s program. She has also spent time in Australia as part of a larger student team that built a solar car and travelled an impressive 3000 km with it!

    At the end of Nadine’s internship, she gave a presentation to her colleagues about the work that she had focused on during the four months at Andøya Space Education. She not only delivered an excellent presentation of the work she had accomplished, but she even gave the presentation in Norwegian! 

    – I think I like the aspect of space, that you’re doing something that seemed impossible in the past. Like launching a rocket to the moon and now maybe launching a rocket to Mars. The aspect of exceeding boundaries is very appealing to me, says Duursma at the end of the interview when talking about why she would like a future space career.

    A girl sitting on the top of a mountain with view to the mountain and open ocean.
    Nadine up at the mountain Måtind at Andøya. Photo: Nadine Duursma

    Follow our career page for future possibilities.

  • Andøya Spaceport officially opened

    Andøya Spaceport, future launch site of Isar Aerospace, was officially opened by H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway on Thursday November 2nd, 2023. 

    • Andøya Spaceport to become the first operational orbital spaceport in continental Europe to finalize the construction of the launch site.
    • This is the beginning of many satellite launches from European commercial space company Isar Aerospace from European soil.
    • The opening of the spaceport marks a crucial milestone on Isar Aerospace’s path to the first test flight.

    Andøya, Norway 02 November 2023 – Today, the launch site operator Andøya Spaceport celebrated the opening of the first operational spaceport in continental Europe, which will become the first launch site of the European launch service company Isar Aerospace. The spaceport is located at Nordmela on the Norwegian island of Andøya and is in the final stages towards operating capability. In an official ceremony, H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon inaugurated the spaceport, an event which also marks a crucial milestone on Isar Aerospace’s path to its first test flight.

    Fully constructed, the spaceport will host several launch pads. Isar Aerospace has exclusive access to the first launch site, which was built to Isar’s specifications, including a launch pad, payload integration facilities as well as a mission control center. This set-up guarantees greatest flexibility and planning security for Isar Aerospace and its clients in bringing small- and medium-sized satellites to space. The launch site will support the two-stage launch vehicle Spectrum, which is set to carry out final stage testing.

    Daniel Metzler, CEO and Co-Founder of Isar Aerospace said: “Today, Norway, the Andøya region and Isar Aerospace take a big step towards space. Over the last five years, we have built a rocket that will help to solve the most crucial bottleneck in the European space industry – sovereign and competitive access to space. Together with Andøya Spaceport, our team has created an excellent piece of engineering, the first orbital launch site in continental Europe which will bring this access to space to Norway, and back to Europe. For Isar Aerospace, this step equals entering the final stages of our path to first flight. For Europe, it means being able to harness the power of the space platform.”

    Andøya Spaceport to become first operational orbital spaceport in Europe

    Andøya Space has a long history in providing infrastructure for suborbital launches. Since 1962, around 1,200 launches of sounding rockets and long duration balloons have taken place at Andøya. With Isar Aerospace to perform Spectrum’s first test flight, Andøya Spaceport will become the first operational orbital spaceport in continental Europa. Given its location far north at a coastline, Andøya Spaceport can offer launches to highly retrograde orbit inclinations. These are favorable for sun synchronous as well as polar orbits which the market has a strong demand for as launch sites for these orbits are limited globally. Andøya Spaceport is a fully-owned subsidiary of Andøya Space.

    The satellite industry is not only a critical factor in addressing national and international challenges but also a catalyst for innovation and economic growth. With a spaceport, Norway becomes one of the very few countries capable of launching satellites from its own territory. This opens the door for an entire new ecosystem of stakeholders, generating more job opportunities and fostering innovative thinking.

    Ingun Berget, President of Andøya Spaceport said: “The opening of the spaceport on Andøya island marks an important milestone for Norway, European New Space industry and our partnership with Isar
    Aerospace: This enables us to have the first satellite launches ever from European soil to take place from Andøya. The attendance of today’s opening by Crown Prince Haakon underlines the importance of our endeavor and puts us on the New Space map in Europe.”

    Isar Aerospace well on track towards the first test flight

    Isar Aerospace is in the final stages of preparation towards its first test flight of Spectrum: After having completed the system designs of its launch vehicle Spectrum, it currently is in the production phase of all parts of the rocket, including the flight engines. The rocket stages will then have to undergo acceptance testing, a series of tests that will verify that the systems meet all necessary requirements for flight.

    Isar Aerospace will offer the first fully privately funded European launch solution to meet the growing demand for transporting small and medium-sized satellites into space. The founder-led company carries out almost the entire value creation in-house, including proprietary propulsion systems, avionics, software and structures. The Spectrum rocket will also have an entirely new propellant set, which will reduce emissions substantially compared to classical rockets. With a pragmatic engineering approach, highly automated in-house manufacturing and a simple design, Isar Aerospace will reduce the costs of each rocket launch drastically. By providing the first competitive launch solution in and out of Europe, Isar Aerospace will be a crucial player in Europe’s vital space push in the years to come.

    About Andøya Spaceport

    Andøya Spaceport is a fully owned subsidiary of Andøya Space, which have over sixty years of experience in the space industry. Andøya Spaceport is focusing on providing launch sites and related services for companies who wish to launch small to medium satellites into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. Andøya Spaceport operates a complete toolbox, including tracking radar, telemetry, and ground-based flight termination systems. The location at Andøya is ideal with easy logistics and direct orbit insertion. More information at: www.andoyaspace.no

    Press contact Andøya Spaceport
    Trond Abrahamsen
    M +47 907 43 911
    E trond.abrahamsen@andoyaspace.no


    About Isar Aerospace

    Isar Aerospace, based in Ottobrunn/Munich, develops and builds launch vehicles for transporting small and medium-sized satellites as well as satellite constellations into Earth’s orbit. The company was founded in 2018 as a spin-off of Technical University Munich. Since then, it has grown to more than 300 employees from more than 40 nations with many years of hands-on rocket know-how and experience within other high-tech industries. More information via: www.isaraerospace.com

    Press contact Isar Aerospace
    Tina Schmitt
    M +49-170-8584834
    E tina.schmitt@isaraerospace.com

    Press photos

    Press kit of the event can be found here incl. photo and video footage.

  • Unique drone testing

    The past weeks, drones have been tested on a large scale outside of Andøya. The test range is quite unique in a European context.

    Over the last weeks, Andøya Space Defence has for the first time tested new drone technology on a large scale outside of Andøya. Andøya Space Defence offers pilots, facilities, simulator and more to test different types of drones for various customers.

    – This is quite unique in a European context, says Odd Arne Andreassen at Andøya Space Defence. – We can set up an almost unlimited test area, where the drones can fly and try out everything they need to.

    Unlike other activities at Andøya Space, drone testing does not require maritime areas to be closed for traffic. Vessels may be present in the area where the drone flight is taking place. Andøya Space has procedures and systems to ensure that a required and safe distance is kept.

    – Setting up a test area of for example 100.000 square kilometers is no problem for us, Andreassen adds.

    Jet-powered drones from Airbus

    This week, twin-engine high-speed jet-powered drones from Airbus Target Systems & Services were tested at Andøya Space. These drones are approximately three meters long, with a wingspan of two and a half meters, and can fly at up to 250 meters per second.

    – The drones simulate different types of aircraft, which the customer’s radars and air defense systems must detect and defend themselves against, says Andreassen.

    By equipping the drones with different transmitters and radar reflectors, the drones can look like almost any kind of aircraft to the radars.

    – In addition to the almost unlimited size of the test area, the main advantage of testing drones at Andøya Space is the flexibility and cooperative spirit in which we conduct the complex flight test, underlines Frank Härtel, director of Airbus Target Systems & Services.

    Additional flight permit not needed

    Andøya Space has permission from Norwegian aviation authorities to fly drones of the “Specific” class in Norway, also on behalf of customers.

    – This means that we are responsible for the flights and their compliance with Norwegian aviation regulations. Thus, the customer does not need to obtain permission to fly in Norwegian airspace themselves, says Andreassen.

    The new drones were tested with different types of engines and instruments at Andøya Space, to check that everything works as it should in the air.

    – The drones already function well, but Airbus wanted to test the latest improvements they have made on the drones, Andreassen says.

    – We brought a full set of test items with us, from new drone types, to new digital functions and new ground operation setups. We were able to test everything successfully, Härtel says.

    Testing drones extensively

    Around 20 employees from Andøya Space were involved in the testing, and about the same number of people from Airbus.

    – Each test flight only lasts an hour or so, but requires many hours of preparation first, says Andreassen.

    The equipment to be tested must be mounted on the drones, and the pilots perform the entire flight in a simulator first. The test area must also be closed to air traffic. This is done by air traffic control at Andøya Airport. Other preparations are also done.

    – When we only have an hour to fly, everyone must know exactly what to do and when, says Andreassen.

    More drone tests throughout the winter

    More drone tests will be carried out for Airbus at Andøya Space during the autumn and winter.

    Andøya Space tests drones both for military and civilian use, for many different types of customers. In addition, Andøya Space trains personnel in drone operations, and has the knowledge and experience necessary to obtain certification from Norwegian aviation authorities to operate most types of drones in Norwegian airspace. In collaboration with Andøy videregående skole, upper secondary education in drones is also offered.


    More information

    Contact Andøya Space Defence.

  • A space talk with Rolf Skatteboe

    Rolf Skatteboe is the CEO of Kongsberg Satellite Services and has been a member of Andøya Space’s Board of Directors since the 1990s. After stepping down from the Board, we wanted to talk with him about his experiences with Andøya Space and the Norwegian space industry.

    How did you become involved with the space industry in the first place?

    – I started in the Norwegian Space Agency working with the technical infrastructure of the Norwegian space sector, Skatteboe says.

    He was tasked with obtaining an overview of the equipment and possibilities of the budding Norwegian space industry, and how it could be developed in cooperation with the European Space Agency, which Norway became a member of in 1986.

    – This necessitated working closely together with the Director of Andøya Space at the time, Kolbjørn Adolfsen, Skatteboe says.

    In the 1990s Skatteboe became the Norwegian Space Agency’s representative in the Board of Directors.

    What are the main differences between now and then at Andøya Space and in the Norwegian space industry in general?

    – Back then Andøya Space was named Andøya Rocket Range and was a foundation. Their main activities were launching sounding rockets for scientific purposes, says Skatteboe.

    Over time, Andøya Rocket Range became a commercial company and additional activities were included on-site. Among these were the space education organization, Andøya Space Education, and the test range for defense missiles and aircraft, Andøya Space Defence.

    – Since then, the Norwegian space industry has become larger and active in more space-related fields. This is partly due to an increased and society-wide use of satellite data, says Skatteboe.

    – Nevertheless, launching sounding rockets has remained important for scientific research, and will continue to be important for basic research in the future, Skatteboe says.

    What have been some of the most significant decisions in your time on the Board?

    – One of the most important decisions was to expand Andøya Space’s launch capabilities of sounding rockets to Svalbard, with the first launch in 1997. The other most important decision was to build a launch base for lofting small satellites into orbit, Skatteboe says.

    The latter was an idea that he and others worked on from the late 1990s, and which will continue to affect Andøya Space in the years ahead.

    What advantages does the Norwegian space industry have, and how can we best use these?

    – Due to Norway’s geographical location, we have a great advantage when it comes to launching satellites and other spacecraft into polar orbits, and communicating with them in these orbits, Skatteboe says.

    The other great advantage Norway has is an entire value chain from developing satellites and spacecraft, to launching them and downlinking their information, to utilizing them for downstream products and services.

    – The great possibilities for and potential in developing this national value chain for space is unique for a small country such as Norway, Skatteboe says.

    How do you think the Norwegian and European space industry will develop in the next five years?

    – Launching sounding rockets for scientific purposes has always been the core activity at Andøya Space and will continue to be an important activity for years ahead, but in larger and more comprehensive programs, says Skatteboe.

    – However, commercial activity will become the most important for Andøya Space. Both satellite launches and technology testing will see significant growth, he says.

    When it comes to other types of space activities, Skatteboe regards the potential for development to be very large, in a rapidly growing international market. Both in the development and launching of satellites, but also in creating products and services from satellite data, and from space science in general.

    Do you have any advice for the remaining Board of Directors?

    – I would remind them to keep considering the customers and to remain open for the commercial possibilities in the growing space market, Skatteboe says.

    What will you be doing after you leave the Board?

    – I will continue to develop Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), hopefully in close cooperation with Andøya Space and their launch capability for small satellites, Skatteboe says.

    – The journey from Andøya Space being a small launch site with short chains of decision and mainly informal processes, to a company with the size and significance it has now, has been very interesting. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have been part of this journey, Skatteboe concludes.

    Photo of Rolf Skatteboe from KSAT: Marius Fiskum

    More information?

    Please send us an email with your questions.

  • The NIFRO award 2024

    Are you a university student and working on a space related master thesis? Now you have the chance to compete for the prestigious NIFRO award 2024.

    The Norwegian Industrial Forum for Space Activities, NIFRO, is a Norwegian industry organization formed to promote the interest and growth of the Norwegian space industry. Its members represent a broad range of companies in the Norwegian space industry.

    The NIFRO award is a yearly award for the best space related master thesis. The goal is to strengthen the cooperation between Norwegian space industry and Norwegian academia.

    A jury will select the winning master thesis based on several criteria. The thesis must demonstrate reflection, maturity, and analytical ability, it must have a value for Norwegian space industry, and the student must have the ability to view the thesis in a broader context.

    The award is 20.000 NOK, and the winner will be presented at the annual NIFRO Space Dinner in Oslo.

    How to submit your thesis

    In order to be nominated, you must meet the following criteria:

    • The thesis must either have been submitted to a Norwegian university, or by a Norwegian student at a foreign university, and be related to space technology or the space industry.
    • The thesis must have been submitted and judged between September 2022 and September 2023.
    • The thesis must be submitted with a 250-word executive summary.
    • It must have been written in either Norwegian or English.
    • The nomination form must be filled out correctly and submitted within the deadline.
    • The nomination must be supported by a professor, who has either guided or judged the master thesis, or by a NIFRO member representative. The support is shown by a signature in the nomination form.

    Submit your nomination by e-mail to joran.grande@andoyaspace.no before November 15th, 2023.

    The nomination must include the following documents:

    • The NIFRO award nomination form (PDF/Word)
    • The master thesis (PDF or Word-format)
    • Optional: You may also include the censor’s assessment if you so wish

    More information?

    Questions about the price can be directed towards Andøya Space Education.

  • Andøya Spaceport expands to the US

    Vincent Ciccarelli has been hired as Andøya Spaceport’s Commercial Director of North America and Asia. His main task will be to make sure that launch operators outside of Europe recognize the opportunities Andøya has to offer. 

    First US-based employee 
    Until now, Andøya Spaceport has mainly focused on the European market for the spaceport that is currently under construction in Northern Norway. That has changed with Ciccarelli joining as the first US-based employee of Andøya Spaceport. 

    Important markets 

    – Establishing a US presence holds great significance for Andøya Spaceport, says President Ingun Berget. We’ve already had a lot of exchange for several years with existing stakeholders and potential partners in the US, and this strategic move is in line with our long-term ambitions. It will allow us to connect more closely with important markets and reflects our dedication to serving customers worldwide. With our location, we believe that Andøya Spaceport is the obvious choice for access to polar and sun-synchronous orbits for both regular commercial operations as for responsive launches. 

    – It is important to be in the United States, closer to the launch operators so that we can build long-term trusting relationships with our new customer base, Ciccarelli says.  

    – Andøya is an obvious choice for European launch operators, but it is also a strategic location for US and Asian based launch operators seeking to grow their European customer market. The launch capacity within the states is quickly filling up, and alternatives are less attractive when compared to Andøya’s offerings. Andøya provides direct access to polar / sun-synchronized orbits, has a more appealing climate than assumed, and above all else: Easy logistics: both through Andøya Airport, two seaports and easily accessed by road from mainland Europe. The air and sea traffic in the north are also relatively low compared to most other places, and with no need for land overflight avoidance, my job will be to make sure the US and Asian launch operators realize this potential, and begin to launch from Andøya. 

    The spaceport at Andøya will be the new European entrance to orbit. Photo of Pad A.

    Background 
    Ciccarelli holds a bachelor’s degree in ​​​supply chain management from Michigan State University, and an MBA from the University of Washington.  

    Prior to his entry into NewSpace he carries ten years of aerospace procurement and strategy at Boeing and 6 years of program management at Amazon. 

    Over the past year he has been working with the major launch providers as the Director of Mission Procurement for Spaceflight Inc., which was recently acquired by Firefly Aerospace. 

    – Knowing the industry well, I wanted to get closer to the launches, he explains. – What better way is there than to be at the actual launch site! So next stop is Andøya Spaceport. 

    Currently in the US, Ciccarelli will spend a good amount of time in Norway over the next year to better understand the company, culture and the spaceport enabling him to build lasting relations with the new customer base. 

    About Andøya Spaceport 

    Andøya Spaceport is a fully owned subsidiary of Andøya Space, which have over sixty years of experience in the space industry. Andøya Spaceport is focusing on providing a launch site and related services for companies who wish to launch small to medium satellites into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. Andøya Spaceport operates a complete toolbox, including tracking radar, telemetry, and ground-based flight termination systems. The location on Andøya is ideal since the launch vehicles can reach orbit without crossing the borders of other countries and as such providing unrestricted direct trajectories. Andøya Spaceport is finalizing the Initial Operating Capability in August 2023 with the completion of the construction of launch pad A, which is dedicated for Isar Aerospace.

  • Andøya Space develops new “brain” for sounding rockets

    To function during flight a sub-orbital rocket needs a service system in order to do science and send sensor data back to the ground. The engineering department at Andøya Space have developed a new service system that can transmit three times more data than the previous system.

    The new service system is composed of four circuit boards, stacked on top of each other and mounted in an aluminum casing.

    – A service system is essentially a support system for the rocket payload and the onboard instruments. It has several tasks, but it basically comes down to getting the instruments into the right position to do science and send sensor data back to the ground, says Aerospace Chief Engineer Geir Lindahl at Andøya Space. 

    He is one of the engineers who have worked closely with the development of the new system.

    The service system is composed of four circuit boards, stacked on top of each other and mounted in an aluminum casing of approximately ten cubic decimeters, which is approximate one liter. These circuit boards handle four sub-tasks: data-encoding, data acquisition, power management, and event-handling.

    Data encoding is the process of collecting data from several different sources, sorting it and translating it into a bit-stream of zeros and ones.

    More than just an encoder

    – This is often thought of as the main task of the service system, and therefore the system is often mistakenly said to be an encoder. It is an encoder, but it is so much more than that. The encoder is only one fourth of the system, says Lindahl.

    The power management system delivers power to all systems and controls the switching between battery and ground power. The event handler is detecting lift-off and arms the onboard pyrotechnics.

    During a flight the payload often separates from the motor, opens hatches, releases the nosecone and deploys a parachute. All these events are controlled by the event handler. The data acquisition system allows analog sensors to be interfaced directly to the service system.

    Thomas Jordbru, Senior Electronics Engineer at Andøya Space, is demonstrating how the service system works.

    Improved capabilities, three times more data

    The new service system will be transmitting three times more data compared to the previous system. The data acquisition has 16 times better resolution. This allows for higher resolution and more detailed analysis on a finer scale.

    – The system has also been extended to comply with more digital protocols making it easier for the customer to interface, says Lindahl.

    A sounding rocket can travel up to a couple of thousand meters per second. To do fine scale measurements at this speed, a high sampling rate and high data throughput is essential. 

    The first launch to use the new system will be the Norwegian sounding rocket Maxidusty 2, scheduled to be launched in the summer of 2024.

    A challenging project

    Andøya Space has been building payloads for over two decades, and all payloads require a service system. Earlier flights used the predecessor, STAPPE 1, which was developed by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI).

    However, when FFI ended its sounding rocket research, the design wasn’t renewed. Components became obsolete and it became impossible to produce more units of the old system.

    – We didn’t have much experience with designing service systems to start with, so the learning curve was steep. Luckily, we had FFI to lead the design and help us, says Lindahl.

    In the middle of the project, Covid-19 happened. This had a large effect on the production of electronic components and caused a global component crisis still felt today.

    – Some components were almost impossible to get hold of with lead times of up to several years. As a result, we had to redesign and change part of the original design, which increased both development time and the cost , Lindahl says.

    Ready for launch

    – The service system has gone through all bench tests with flying colors and is now ready to be tested and used together with the scientific instruments before launch to see how well our system performs together with other systems, says Lindahl.

    He is very pleased that the new service system is now completed and ready to be used for launches at Andøya.

    – It feels great that this long project is finally finished. It has been a good learning experience and we have gained a lot from FFI’s extensive knowledge. I feel like the torch has been passed to us in a good way. We own the design and have the knowledge to develop the system further ourselves. We are very happy to present the new system to our customers, Lindahl concludes.

    More information

    Please send us an email if you are interested in more information about our developments.

  • Scientific cooperation across borders

    What is the EASP agreement, and what can it do for your science?

    – The Esrange and Andøya Special Project (EASP) agreement is an international agreement for launching sounding rockets and balloons from the Andøya and Esrange launch sites, along with related scientific projects, explains Kolbjørn Blix, Vice President, Andøya Space Sub-Orbital. He is the manager for the EASP agreement at Andøya Space.

    Five member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) are a part of the agreement. These are France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Norway joined in the early 1990s.

    The EASP agreement is directed by ESA from their headquarters in Paris, yet it is not an ESA agreement.

    – The agreement has two main parts, one describing the objectives, organization and its undertakings covered by Norway and Sweden, such as infrastructure facilities, sounding rocket and stratospheric balloon activities, annual contributions to basic maintenance costs, operational fees and cost reimbursement, the programme advisory committee, the role of ESA and so on, says Blix.

    The second part, or annexes, covers the support provided for the scientific projects that are included in the agreement. For example telemetry, radars, complementary instruments, assembly halls, services, accommodation, dining, and recreational facilities.

    One or two EASP launches per year at Andøya

    The EASP agreement includes potential launches with sounding rockets, telemetry and tracking of the rocket if needed, full crew for performing the launch itself, and use of equipment and assembly halls on site necessary to prepare the payload and sounding rocket for launch.

    The German sounding rocket “STORT” was lanched from Andøya in 2022.

    – We usually have one or two EASP launches every year, occasionally with two sounding rockets going up in the same rocket campaign, says Blix.

    These can be sounding rockets for scientific research, such as for investigating noctilucent clouds high up in the atmosphere, or they may be technology tests or demonstrations of for example new rocket motors.

    This year’s EASP launch at Andøya Space will be a technology demonstration of a new type of rocket motor developed by a German company. This test is conducted through the German space agency DLR. The demonstration is named SOAR, and will be launched in November 2023.

    Sounding rockets, balloons, and related ground-based research

    The EASP agreement covers launches with sounding rockets as well as with scientific balloons.

    – This means that the EASP agreement also is open for scientists who wish to use stratospheric balloons for their experiments, as well as related research on the ground, says Blix. – But most of the launches from Andøya are sounding rockets. 

    Contributes actively with projects to the agreement

    The EASP agreement is automatically renewed every five years, and the next time will be in 2025.

    – We do not only participate in the agreement, we also contribute actively with scientific projects for it, says Blix.

    He manages, along with scientists from Norway and USA, a large international collaboration of research of the middle and upper atmosphere called The Grand Challenge Initiative Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere (GCI M/LT).

    This collaboration allows scientists from countries outside of the EASP agreement to be a part of the ground-based or sounding rocket research covered by the agreement.

    – At the Grand Challenge Initiative website, interested parties can also find a white paper describing the collaboration, with information that can be used for applications for joining the cooperation, Blix says.

    Grand Challenge Initiative mission patch
  • Andøya Space is strengthening the capacity with new launcher

    Andøya Space is strengthening the launch capacity with a new launcher in Oksebåsen, Andøya. The new launcher will be ready for launches by the end of autumn 2024.

    Illustration of the new Andøya Space launcher.

    Andøya Space has been launching sounding rockets for 61 years, and is now strengthening the launching capacity by building a new launcher in Oksebåsen at Andøya. With the new launcher Andøya Space will be able to launch multiple sounding rockets during a campaign.

    – The sounding rockets have gotten bigger and bigger the last couple of years, and we therefore saw the need to upgrade with one more launcher to strengthen our ability to handle multiple rockets during one campaign, says Hans Arne Eilertsen, project manager for the new launcher build-up at Andøya Space.

    The launcher is built as a universal launcher that can be used for all kinds of sounding rockets. It can also operate at low elevation, which makes the launches more flexible.

    Ready for launches autumn 2024

    Karstein Kristiansen Entreprenør is the contractor for the shelter and the launcher is delivered by Oil-Tech. Both companies were chosen after an invitation to tender.

    The building phase starts in August this year, and the launcher is scheduled to be ready for launches by the end of autumn 2024.

    More information

    Please send us an email if you want more information about the new launcher.

  • Well under way to the first test launch from Andøya Spaceport

    Andøya Spaceport is building Norway’s first spaceport on Andøya, where satellites can be launched with orbital launch vehicles into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. But what is needed for the new spaceport to start operations?

    Illustration of a launch from the first pad at Andøya Spaceport, Norway.

    Andøya Spaceport is providing the ground infrastructure for launch operator companies to launch small satellites into orbit. The initial capability includes a new launch pad, an integration hall where the rocket is assembled and integrated with the payload, and control rooms for operating tests, launch operations and range activities.

    – The integration hall is completed and ready to receive the first launch operator, the European space company Isar Aerospace and their new launch vehicle Spectrum, says Jon Harr, operations director at Andøya Spaceport.

    – Our integration hall provides a clean room for satellite integration, as well as heavy equipment such as cranes and other mechanical tools, says Harr.

    The control rooms are finalized as well. Here, all procedures leading up to the launch will be run, like the countdown operations, and the safety measures. Telemetry and tracking will be monitored during tests, preparations, and launch.

    There are two different control rooms. The launch control room is operated by Andøya Spaceport and the launch operator will steer launch operations from a second room.

    The control rooms are located in the village Nordmela at Andøya.

    Developing the procedures for orbital launches in Norway

    Andøya Spaceport is working closely together with The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (Direktoratet for samfunnssikkerhet og beredskap, DSB), which regulates the safety on the ground, and the Civil Aviation Authority’s space division in Norway (Luftfartstilsynets Romtilsyn), which regulates launching activities, to develop and fulfill the necessary safety procedures.

    – Orbital launches have not been performed in Norway before, and we are all breaking new ground, which requires a lot of documentation and close cooperation. But this also makes us more focused on our own procedures and processes, which is both healthy and useful for something as important as safety, says Harr.

    Final testing and qualification

    As a part of the process of getting ready for the first test flight, Isar Aerospace is planning to test the first and second stages of their launch vehicle Spectrum at Andøya Spaceport ahead of the launch.

    – These tests are planned to be performed over several weeks and involve fueling the first and second stages and then test firing them at the launch site, says Harr.

    – The second stage contains instrumentation for telemetry and flight termination in case of failure. Andøya Spaceport will work closely together with Isar Aerospace to test these systems in conjunction with our ground systems, says Harr.

    Training personnel

    During stage testing and launch operations, Andøya Spaceport monitors the safety closely.

    – We are therefore in the process of selecting the right people, training them for these tests and preparing the necessary safety precautions and routines, says Harr. – The personnel will monitor the tests to ensure that there are no people, ground vehicles, maritime traffic, or aviation activities present in the launch area.

    – Both stage testing and launch operations will require training of our operational personnel, and we may also need to recruit additional people, so keep an eye out on our website for available positions, says Harr.

    The first test flight of Isar Aerospace’s Spectrum at Andøya Spaceport is scheduled to take place in the second half of 2023. The payload of small satellites onboard the launch vehicle to polar and sun-synchronous orbits are from European institutions, including FramSat-1 developed by Norwegian students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

    About Andøya Spaceport:

    Andøya Spaceport is a fully owned subsidiary of Andøya Space, focusing on providing a launch site and related services for companies who wish to launch small satellites into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. Andøya Spaceport operates a complete toolbox, including tracking radar, telemetry, and ground-based flight termination systems. The location on Andøya is ideal since the launch vehicles can reach orbit without crossing the borders of other countries. Andøya Spaceport is central in the development of Norwegian and European space industry.

    About Isar Aerospace:

    Isar Aerospace, based in Ottobrunn/Munich, develops and builds launch vehicles for transporting small and medium-sized satellites as well as satellite constellations into Earth’s orbit. The company was founded in 2018 as a spin-off of Technical University Munich. Since then, it has grown to more than 300 employees from more than 40 nations with many years of hands-on rocket know-how and experience within other high-tech industries.

    More information via: www.isaraerospace.com

    More information?

    Please send us an email with your questions.

  • Space Technology at NTNU: From plant research to building rockets at Andøya

    Over the last three decades, Space Technology at NTNU has covered topics from plant research for the international space station, to building and launching rockets at Andøya Space. Every year a group of students get to travel to Andøya to launch a student rocket.

    On June 11th 2023, 18 students travelled from Trondheim to Andøya to work on a rocket project for a week, and ensure the launch of their rocket.

    The story behind Space Technology at NTNU

    Nearly 30 years ago, in 1995, Professor Tor-Henning Iversen established what is now known as the Plant Biocentre at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) in Dragvoll. Iversen and his team conducted research on plants and how they could thrive in artificial atmospheres, such as those found on the International Space Station.

    Around the turn of the millennium, Professor Iversen introduced the subject of Space Technology as part of the centre. However, after a few years, it was transferred to the Department of Physics. The subject was subsequently transferred to the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications (as it was known at the time), and Professor Vendela Maria Paxal took over.

    A longstanding tradition of fieldwork on Andøya

    When Paxal took over in 2009, the course already included a well-established field trip to Andøya. Since then, Paxal has once a year traveled to Andøya with a group of students who spend a week building the payload for a four-meter-long rocket. At the end of the week, they all have different roles in the countdown and ensure the successful launch of the rocket.

    – This opportunity I’ve had is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, said Knut Olav Kragh enthusiastically, who were one of the students in this year’s field trip.

    Space Technology II students and their rocket “Toothless”. Photo: Andøya Space Education

    Over the years, Space Technology has grown in popularity, now consisting of two courses: Space Technology I (fall) and Space Technology II (spring).

    When Paxal took over, there were around 30–40 enrolled students, but today the number is close to 200 and continues to rise. The courses cover various fields, ranging from physics, with subjects like orbital mechanics, space environment, auroras, atmospheric physics, to applications, with subjects like earth observation, navigation, communication, and astronomical observation. They also cover life in space, like effects on living organisms such as plants and humans, and technology, where the subjects cover satellite platforms, rocket technology, satellite launches, and small sats / new space.

    Importance of first-hand industry exposure

    The subject maintains strong ties with the industry, inviting guest lecturers from diverse fields. Paxal herself is also connected to the industry, working for WideNorth on the development of satellite communication equipment.

    – The feedback from both Norwegian and international students shows their great appreciation for guest lecturers, obtaining information directly from experts, and gaining firsthand knowledge of industry and research within this exciting and growing field, says Paxal.

    The highlight of Space Technology II is the opportunity to travel to Andøya Space, limited to 24 students. To enroll in this course, students must have successfully completed Space Technology I. In addition to the field trip to Andøya, students are also required to write an essay on a topic related to space technology.

    – I believe Space Technology II is an incredibly enriching course that provides us with practical experience and showcases the possibilities within the field of space technology, says Anja Våge Burtonwood, a student in the program.

    – The entire Space Technology II course raises awareness of the opportunities available in both Norwegian and European space exploration, explains Ulrik Falk-Petersen, one of the students. – I believe this field trip allows us to turn concepts into reality through a scientific rocket project, concludes Falk-Petersen.

    Anja Våge Burtonwood signing the rocket before launch. Photo: Andøya Space Education

    Jump into more opportunities for students

  • Norwegian Space Academy

    ​​Today work began to establish a new cooperation between Norwegian and European universities based on the possibilities opened by the new European spaceport under construction at Andøya Space. The cooperation is a three-year project with the name “Norwegian Space Academy” with the goal of establishing an attractive and complementary program for universities in Norway and Europe.​

    The Norwegian parliament have pointed to the importance of facilitating for new space education programs in relation to the new spaceport under construction at Andøya. This as a part of educating the future workers of Norway’s space industry. That is the background for the 6 MNOK, three-year project.  

    Today, during her visit to Andøya Space, the leader of Nordland County Council Elin Dahlseng Eide, announced that the Nordland County Council grants 2.9 MNOK to the project. This comes on top of previous grants from Andøya Municipality and the Ministry of Education and Research. 

    – This is good news, and means that we can, together with academia and the space industry, start the work of establishing the new cooperation, says Anne Margrethe Horsrud, president of Andøya Space Education.  

    – Our goal is that the Norwegian Space Academy shall be an attractive and complementary program for Norwegian and European universities in the future, says Jøran Grande, project manager at Andøya Space Education. 

    Fylkesrådsleder Elin Dahlseng Eide og prosjektleder ved Andøya Space Jøran Grande

    About Andøya Space Education

    Andøya Space Education is a fully owned subsidiary and represents the educational part of Andøya Space. Andøya Space Education provides courses, seminars and activities within space-related subjects for kindergartens, schools and universities, and aims to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers from all over the world.

    More information

    Please contact project manager Jøran Grande

  • Norwegian Cansat competition 2023

    This April, Norwegian high school students met at Andøya Space to take part in the Norwegian Cansat competition 2023.

    A Cansat is a miniature satellite small enough to fit inside a soda can. It has a primary mission to measure air temperature and air pressure, and a secondary mission which the students are free to define themselves.

    Students have to create solutions and designs which must survive being dropped from a drone while performing their missions.

    – We use the Cansat concept actively with high schools all over Norway, says Simen Bergvik, science teacher at Andøya Space Education. – It is both an interdisciplinary project teachers can do at their school, and also a yearly national competition.

    This year, four high schools participated in the competition, forming seven teams in total:

    • Norges Realfagsungdomsskole (NRG-U)
    • Rælingen high school
    • Bodin high school
    • Ølen high school

    A jury selected the winning team based on the teams’ reports, oral presentations and how they used creativity and collaboration to solve their mission.

    The Norwegian Cansat champions of 2023 is “Team Terra” from Rælingen high school. The winning team received 10 000 NOK, and gets to represent Norway in the European competition in June.

    -It has been a fun and educational experience, says Oliver Merli from Team Terra. -I’ve learned countless new skills which I’ll bring with me further on in life.

    The Cansat competitions is a collaboration between Andøya Space, Andøya Space Education, ESERO Norway and ESA Education.

    More information

    Please contact Andøya Space Education for questions regarding our services.

  • Lift-off for NASA VortEx

    Two sounding rockets in the NASA VortEx project was launched from Andøya Space on March 23rd, 2023.

    The VortEx project aims to understand how winds and energy from the lower atmosphere affect the upper atmosphere. In the atmosphere, energy from the lower atmosphere travels up as much as 100 kilometers. These waves of energy create turbulence, vortices and instability in the upper atmosphere, and may affect the space weather around the Earth. Knowledge of these processes is important to protect satellites and other infrastructure in orbit.

    Of the four sounding rockets prepared for VortEx, the first of them was launched from Andøya on March 23rd, 2023, at 21:00:00 UTC, followed by the second rocket two minutes later.

    The first sounding rocket reached an apogee of 149 kilometers, and the second reached 363 kilometers while releasing tracers to visualize turbulence and vortices in the atmosphere – creating cloud formations visible from the ground.

    Image of a high altitude cloud against a dark, starry sky.
    The tracers dispersing in the atmosphere, visualizing the turbulence and vortices.

    The two sounding rockets that didn’t launch will be transferred into storage awaiting future use.

  • Reaching for the clouds

    Can clouds help us improve weather forecasts and climate models? That’s what researchers from the MC2 project are trying to find out. The past month they have been conducting reasearch on mixed-phase clouds from Andøya, trying to solve one important piece of the puzzle of the role clouds play in the Earth’s climate.

    Clouds are key components in the Earth’s weather and climate system, and about 60 percent of the Earth is covered by clouds. They transport heat and moisture from the warm tropical regions into the cold polar regions, and where warm air from the tropics meets cold air from the poles, you can both observe and feel the impact of clouds.

    Despite this, the processes that lead to the formation of clouds are not yet fully understood. By doing more research and understanding more about clouds, we can get even more accurate weather and climate forecasts.

    Mixed-phase clouds

    – Clouds are one of the largest sources of uncertainty in current climate models. We are therefore trying to better understand the development of mixed-phase clouds, how they evolve, and how that affects the weather and climate, says Tim Carlsen, researcher at the Department of Geosciences at the University of Oslo.

    He and his colleagues have conducted the Mixed-phase Clouds and Climate (MC2) campaign at Andøya Space, a five-week-long scientific measurement campaign that combined measurements from a research aircraft with ground-based observations.

    The focus of the MC2 campaign are mixed-phase clouds, which consist of both liquid water and ice, and their role for the Earth’s climate. Their importance is undisputed, but their exact properties are still very uncertain.

    – We are looking into how much of the mixed-phase clouds are water droplets and how much are ice crystals. This is important for how the clouds develop and evolve, and other factors, such as how much sunlight they reflect, says Robert Oscar David, another of the researchers from the University of Oslo in the MC2 campaign.

    The MC2 project team at Andøya

    Andøya – a natural laboratory for climate science

    During the research flights, the researchers investigated the distribution of liquid water and ice crystals in low- to mid-level clouds. These types of clouds are common in the Arctic.

    – Andøya is a really unique location because it’s at a crossroads where air from the Arctic meets air from farther south, says Carlsen.

    – The type of clouds we are investigating are frequently found here at this time of year. That makes Andøya a natural laboratory for us, adds David.

    Andøya Space has a long history of offering research infrastructure to universities and research institutions from all over the world.

    – Our main task is to provide the infrastructure and services that makes such campaigns possible, says Laura Scholtz, project manager for the MC2 campaign at Andøya Space. – This includes facilities for performing ground-based measurements and delivering data from our own instruments at the Alomar Observatory.

    Some of the flight crew for the MC2 campaign from INCAS and University of Oslo

    MC2 – an international collaboration

    This is the third year the researchers in the MC2 project are at Andøya.

    – This time we utilize a research aircraft from the National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli” (INCAS) in Romania. It is a key component in the campaign that we haven’t had earlier, says Carlsen.

    The aircraft will help to put the ground-based observations into a larger perspective. It carries instruments that measure the number and size of ice crystals and liquid droplets in the clouds. The pilots and operators from INCAS are part of the campaign team at Andøya, planning and coordinating the flights with the scientists.

    – Two of them operate the instruments during the flight. The plane also has room for one mission scientist, says Laura-Kristin Scholtz.

    – To have a mission scientist onboard is a great advantage because it allows us to record exactly what kind of clouds we’re flying through and enables us to make in-flight decisions to easier find what we are after, says David.

    A piece of the climate puzzle

    In addition to INCAS in Romania, researchers from the Universities of Bergen, Gothenburg and Leipzig are part of the MC2 campaign. The team from the University of Oslo is led by Professor Trude Storelvmo.

    – We also have two postdoctoral researchers, three PhD students and three master’s students who are actively involved in the measurements. They are critical for the project, and will use the data in their own research, says David.

    – With MC2 we hope to solve one important piece of the puzzle of the role clouds play in the Earth’s climate, says Carlsen.

  • VortEx ready to launch from Andøya

    How do winds and energy from the lower atmosphere affect the upper atmosphere and space weather? Understanding and forecasting space weather is important to protect satellites and other infrastructure in orbit, whose functions may be disturbed or disrupted by space weather.

    In the atmosphere, energy from the lower atmosphere travels up as much as 100 kilometers. These waves of energy create turbulence, vortices and instability in the upper atmosphere, and may affect the space weather around the Earth.

    Radar, sounding rockets and optical instruments

    – The Vorticity Experiment (VortEx) will use radar, sounding rockets and optical instruments to map an area in the mesosphere of about 100 by 200 kilometers in size, from 80 to 140 kilometers altitude, says Ida-Elise Øverås, Director Sounding Rockets & Engineering Services at Andøya Space.

    By sampling and analyzing this area, the researchers seeks to understand how this region in the mesosphere affects the upper atmosphere through mixing processes with the lower atmosphere.

    Four sounding rockets

    – Four sounding rockets will be launched from Andøya Space for VortEx. These four sounding rockets will take off in pairs, says Øverås.

    In each pair, one rocket will contain 16 individual measurements of wind, while the other will perform a continuous measurement of wind and temperature.

    – One of the sounding rockets in each pair will also release trimethylaluminum to visualize turbulence and vortices in the air. This will be filmed from three different sites, here at Andøya, in Alta and near Bodø, and by our research plane, says Øverås.

    The sounding rockets in VortEx have a launch window from the 17th of March to the 26th of March 2023.

    Principal Investigator for VortEx is Dr. Gerald Lehmacher at Clemson University in South Carolina in the US. VortEx is part of the Grand Challenge Initiative Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere.

  • Framsat-1 shake test

    Ref: https://andoyaspace.no/articles/framsat-1-shake-test-at-andoya-space

    Before a satellite is ready for launch it is thoroughly tested to make sure it can withstand both the rocket’s intense shaking and vibrations during launch, as well as the harsh environment of space.

    The first satellites to be launched from Andøya Spaceport will be several CubeSats from five institutions in Germany, Slovenia and Norway. These nanosatellites, measuring only 10 x 10 x 10 centimeters and weighing less than two kilos each, will be launched from Andøya Spaceport by Isar Aerospace’s rocket “Spectrum”.

    One of these CubeSats is FramSat-1, built by members of the student organization Orbit NTNU at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

    FramSat-1 will test an experimental sun sensor developed for satellites and sounding rockets. Such sensors measure the sun’s position relative to the satellite, to determine the satellite’s attitude in space

    The sun sensor on FramSat-1 has been delivered by the Norwegian space company Eidsvoll Electronics (EIDEL). Other organizations which contribute to the FramSat-1 mission are Andøya Space Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space Education, Institute for electronic systems at NTNU, the Norwegian Space Agency, Kongsberg Group and Inission.

    An important milestone

    Like all satellites and spacecraft, the student CubeSats must pass several tests demonstrating that they can withstand the intense shaking and vibrations during launch as well as the harsh environment of space.

    Andøya Space is the facility for FramSat-1’s shake test.

    – This is an important milestone in the development of all satellites, says Mathias Askeland, project manager for FramSat in Orbit NTNU.

    FramSat-1 was taken through vibration tests at several different frequencies to check that the results are within the specifications from Isar Aerospace. The resonance frequency of the satellite will also be detected.

    – In addition, we will test functionality at every axis to ensure that all subsystems onboard still work as intended, says Askeland.

    Making connections with the space industry

    – Everyone working on FramSat-1 have made a maximum effort these last months. We are very relieved that the satellite is ready and that we have solved all the challenges which arose during development, Askeland says.

    After the shake test at Andøya, the three students participating in the test will bring FramSat-1 with them back to Trondheim.

    The students at Orbit NTNU are developing another satellite identical to FramSat-1, to be launched later.

    – It’s been a pleasure to work with our FramSat-1 partners and develop strong connections with the Norwegian and international space industry, Askeland says.

    Environmental testing at Andøya Space

    Andøya Space has developed an environmental testing facility for qualifying sounding rocket payloads.

    – Here we have equipment for performing spin-balancing, spin-deploy, bend-down and vacuum testing, in addition to the vibration table used for testing Framsat-1, says Geir Lindahl, Chief Engineer at Andøya Space Sub-Orbital.

    – With the rapid growth of the satellite market and the construction of our new launch base, we also intend to adapt our test facilities to be able to support more satellite customers, says Lindahl.

    Space Education 2.0

    Framsat-1 is a pilot project in Space Education 2.0, an initiative which aims to use the new educational possibilities which have opened due to the creation of Andøya Spaceport.

    – We aim to increase the utilization of the infrastructure here at Andøya Space for both Norwegian and international universities, says Jøran Grande, project manager at Andøya Space Education.

    This infrastructure includes the new launch facilities for small satellites, as well as the launch base for sounding rockets, Alomar – a laboratory for atmospheric science at Andøya Space.

    More information

  • Satellites as everyday tools

    Ref: https://andoyaspace.no/articles/nasa-ready-for-launch-from-andoya-space

    The world needs to become more sustainable. We must reduce both our ecological footprint and our emissions. But how do we know that the different measures will work? This is where satellites come in.

    – The climate changes we are facing are global, and it’s all connected, says Birgit Vildalen, leader of the environmental team at Andøya Space. – Emissions doesn’t just stop by the border; they have consequences for the entire Earth. Satellites can help us see the big picture.

    The climate changes is measurable through parameters such as increased winds and more precipitation. Important infrastructure, i.e. drains, pipes, and power distribution networks, are rarely designed to handle these increases.

    – Sustainability isn’t just about reducing our footprint, but also develop and use new technology that can contribute to surveillance and preventive actions on a global level, says Vildalen.

    Earth observation satellites continuously measure the atmosphere, the oceans, land areas and the ice in the polar regions. They measure temperature, precipitation, ocean currents, wave height, ocean levels, greenhouse gases, and a series of other parameters that are important to understand the global climate.

    – A satellite in polar orbit will lap the Earth 16 times every day, and provide immediate feedback on Earth’s health, says Vildalen. – But it will also show us the development over time, which enables researchers to make predictions about the near future, suggest actions and give decision makers time to prepare critical infrastructure.

    Multispectral cameras are important tools onboard the satellites.

    Daily operations

    – Data from satellites can be used to optimize daily operations, says Vildalen. – There are systems now which can tell the captain of a container ship that she can sail with lower speeds and still reach her destination in time. Saving fuel and CO2 emission at the same time.

    – Up to date data on winds, ocean currents and wave height can be used to optimize the sailing routes when it comes to fuel consumption and at the same time ensure safe vessel operations.

    Farmers can also benefit from up-to-date satellite data.

    – Satellites can photograph large fields using multispectral cameras, and «see» the status of the soil, says Vildalen. – It can give the farmer an early warning. Maybe she should adjust the nutrients she’s using.

    A satellite’s life in space

    – Satellites are amazing tools, say Jon Harr, Director of operations at Andøya Spaceport. – Advances in technology has not only made them physically smaller, but also smarter.

    – Traditionally they we’re all the size of a truck, but now some of them can be as tiny as microwave ovens, says Harr. – Small satellites is both cheaper to manufacture and cheaper to launch. But all satellites have a limited life-span and needs to be replaced after a few years.

    UV-radiation, space weather and large temperature fluctuations are some of the effects on satellites in orbit, which will take its toll on solar arrays, batteries, and computers.

    – Small satellites have an average life-span of five years before the electronics dies out, says Harr. – But sometimes they may live longer. The Norwegian small satellite AISSAT-1 functioned perfectly for ten years.

    It is important to have a plan for what will happen to the satellite after end-of-life, to avoid it becoming space junk.

    – Satellites in low Earth orbit is not in 100% vacuum but experiences a tiny resistance from the atmosphere – also known as atmospheric drag, says Harr. – It is enough to eventually slow the satellite down so much so that it drops in altitude and then burns up in the atmosphere.

    Norwegian smallsats are already at work.

    NewSpace

    – Smaller and cheaper satellites means that space no longer is the domain of governments with deep pockets, says Harr. – NewSpace is about private businesses and organizations moving in, and even businesses which traditionally haven’t seen space as a resource.

    When Andøya Spaceport begin the commercial operations at the end of 2023, Norway and Europe will have a complete value-chain within the space industry; from manufacturing of satellites, to launch, to download of satellite data and downstream customers.

    – Norway already has a fleet of small satellites in orbit, says Harr. – Their main task is to monitor ship traffic inside the country’s economic zone, and the data they transmit back is used actively by both the Norwegian Coastal Administration, and the Norwegian coast guard.

    – Avalanche warnings, forest fires, pollution, algal blooms, farmer’s fields, broadband at the cabin, interactive maps and so on. It is basically only our own imaginations which limits how satellites can help us in our everyday lives, Harr finishes.

    More information

    Do you have questions about the Norwegian spaceport?

  • Gaining satellite insight through FlatSat

    Ref: https://andoyaspace.no/articles/gaining-satellite-insight-through-flatsat

    In January, Kongsberg NanoAvionics, demonstrated the FlatSat concept to Andøya Space, University of Oslo (UiO) and the Arctic University of Norway (UiT). The goal is to give students the opportunity to gain insight into how satellites work.

    A FlatSat is a twin satellite, a copy of a real-life satellite. The FlatSat consists of the same subsystems as a real satellite, but instead of being assembled as a CubeSat ready for orbit, the satellite components are spread out and mounted onto a table for easy access and display.

    During the operator training employees from Andøya Space, the University of Oslo (UiO) and the Arctic University of Norway (UiT) learned how small satellites from Kongsberg NanoAvionics work, and how to access and change satellite subsystems.

    Ahead of the training, Andøya Space purchased a FlatSat from Kongsberg NanoAvionics, a small satellite constellation manufacturer and mission service provider, and installed it in a clean room. A clean room makes it possible for students and employees to work with the satellite in an environment safe from electrostatic discharges.

    – Having a working satellite made available for students, makes it a lot easier to complete practical exercises and training, says Jøran Grande, Project Manager at Andøya Space Education. – The FlatSat provides the students with a real case and gives them an impression of what it’s like to work as a professional satellite operator or a satellite engineer. With this setup, the students can also simulate a passing satellite and run simulations on the satellite’s systems and payloads.

    The training is a part of the Space Education 2.0 project, which is looking at how the new spaceport at Andøya can open new opportunities for higher education in Norway and Europe.

    – It is a unique opportunity for our students to get to work with real satellites in this way, says Ketil Hansen, Laboratory Engineer at the Department for Electronics and Space Technology, UiT Campus Narvik.

    – I certainly see good training opportunities for our students, says Professor Ketil Røed at the Department of Physics, University of Oslo.

    – It was very interesting to get to know the FlatSat concept and gain insights into the work of a satellite provider and operator, says Anja Kohfeldt, Associate Professor at the Centre for Space Sensors and Systems, University of Oslo. – I will look into how we can integrate this into our new master’s program in Space Systems at UiO.

    In addition to being used for training purposes, FlatSats are also used commercially to conduct local testing before software changes or commands are sent to a corresponding satellite in space. They can also be used as a sandbox playground for testing and development before a satellite is placed into orbit.

    – The training session was outstanding, says Andrius Bružas, Software Field Application Engineer at Kongsberg NanoAvionics. – We had a great time participating and were impressed with the level of expertise and professionalism of the Andøya Space team. Overall, it was a great experience, and we look forward to future opportunities!

    The next step for Andøya Space Education will be to work closely with the collaborating universities, and to develop exciting new hands-on complementary activities.

    More information

    Contact project manager Jøran Grande for more information

  • NASA ACES II launched from Andøya Space

    Ref: https://andoyaspace.no/articles/nasa-aces-ii-launched-from-andoya-space

    Two American research rockets from NASA were launched from Andøya Space on November 20th, 2022.

    Lift-off from Oksebåsen, November 20th. Photo: Andøya Space.

    The ACES II mission was the first “NASA ship-and-shoot mission” from Andøya, where the payloads and ground support equipment were shipped via aircraft to Andøya Airport.

    ACES II was a follow-up mission from ACES, which launched from a site in Alaska in 2009. ACES is an abbreviation for Aurora Current and Electrodynamics Structures.

    The mission consisted of a total of two sounding rocket flights (36.359 and 36.364) launched from Andøya Space November 20th 2022 at 18:20 and 18:21.

    This experiment was launched on two Black Brant IX launch vehicles. The payloads utilized a suite of in-flight instruments to take in-situ measurements of a stable auroral arc.

    The payloads were launched with 120 seconds between the two launches, to achieve magnetic conjunction. The experiment required an Attitude Control System (ACS) on each payload.

    Mission information

    Project Manager: Daniel Bowden, NASA/Wallops

    Principal Investgator: Dr. Scott Bounds, University of Iowa

    Vehicles: 36.359 (Bounds High Flyer) and 36.364 (Bounds Low Flyer)

  • NASA ACES II ready for launch from Andøya Space

    Ref: https://andoyaspace.no/articles/nasa-ready-for-launch-from-andoya-space

    Two American research rockets are now ready for launch from Andøya. The sub-orbital rockets will launch within two minutes of each other.

    ACES II is a follow-up mission from ACES, which launched from a site in Alaska in 2009. ACES is an abbreviation of Aurora Current and Electrodynamics Structures.

    Northern lights research

    The two rockets will perform simultaneous measurements inside a northern lights arc, but at different altitudes.

    – One rocket will travel up to 410 kilometers altitude, says Kolbjørn Blix, VP Science & Technology at Andøya Space. – And the other will reach an altitude of 160 kilometers.

    – Both vehicles are two-stage vehicles, meaning they carry two rocket motors each, says Kolbjørn. – The launches are planned so that both vehicles will reach apogee at the same time, even if one of them starts two minutes before the other. This is done to be able to observe how electrical currents and structures inside the aurora behave in different heights.

    Space weather

    – Northern lights research really is research into how the sun affects the Earth, which has been known since late 1800s when the Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland connected the dots, says Kolbjørn. – This solar influence on Earth is referred to as space weather, and being able to predict space weather is very important for the modern society we all live in.

    – Powerful space weather affect not just satellites in orbit, but also GPS, communications, power grids and compasses, says Kolbjørn. – ACES II will contribute to basic research which will also help us understand Earth’s atmosphere better.

    – The principal investigator behind ACES II is Dr. Bounds from the University of Iowa, says Kolbjørn. – The launches will take place some time from the 16th to the 30th of November, 1800-2200 local time, when the science team have identified the optimal science conditions the rockets need.

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Cooperation agreement signed between Airbus and Andøya Space Defence

    Andøya Space Defence has signed a cooperation agreement with Airbus Defence and Space for live firing training support of Air Defenders: Army, Navy and Air Forces.

    Representatives from Andøya Space Defence and Airbus signing cooperation agreement
    Andøya Space Defence and Airbus signing cooperation agreement

    Airbus Direct Target UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) will be the choice for live firing training at the unique range of Andøya in North Norway.

    The ground support infrastructure for the Airbus Target System will be integrated in Andøya and its personnel will have the capability to operate the Airbus target drones on their own or together with Airbus resources.

    – Combining the unique capabilities of Airbus and Andøya, a turnkey solution is now available. This cooperation represents a higher capability for Air Defence training, based on our innovative Direct Target UAV platform. The cooperation is a role model for the support of the worldwide Air Defence Forces, says Frank Härtel, Head of Airbus Target Systems and Services.

    – As a part of the continuous development of the range services, Andøya Space Defence has been searching for a partner to support and provide the Aerial Target Systems. Our experience over the last years is that Airbus is an ideal partner for our expansion of the services. This cooperation will greatly improve our capabilities, says Gunnar Jan Olsen, President of Andøya Space Defence.

    Airbus Defence and Space Target Services

    The Target Systems and Services department of Airbus Defence and Space provides realistic support for Air Defenders in live firing exercises. For more than 22 years Direct Aerial Target drones are produced and the cost-effective service of realistic air threat is provided in training scenarios.

    Andøya Space Defence

    Andøya Space Defence is a versatile Test Range used for a variety of missions. Andøya Space Defence is the only advanced Test and Training Range in Norway for advanced testing and is in many respects unique in Nordic waters. The range is used on a regular basis for large exercises with multinational defence task forces.

    More information

    Please contact Gunnar Jan Olsen, President of Andøya Space Defence.

  • How can satellites help during disasters?

    Ref: https://andoyaspace.no/articles/how-can-satellites-help-during-disasters

    When disasters strike, help from satellites can make a huge difference to ensure that the best and most accurate information needed for the situation is made accessible.

    – The satellite data needed during disasters are first and foremost from optical and radar satellites, says Jon Harr, Operations Director at Andøya Spaceport. – They can map the affected area, see the full extent of the damage, and spot entry or exit points and safe zones.

    Thus, optical and radar satellite data are vital for evaluating the scope of the disaster, for emergency services entering or working in the disaster area. They are used for search and rescue, setting up assembly points, organizing evacuation and more.

    – For emergency services, establishing phone and internet communication via satellite is also vitally important, as all ground-based communication may be knocked out in the disaster zone, Harr says.

    Establishing satellite communication for emergency work usually doesn’t take much time, as such satellites already cover the entire Earth.

    Can provide vital help

    For all types of disasters, whether caused by hurricane, tornado, flooding, landslide, earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, drought, famine or other phenomena, the International Charter Space and Major Disasters provides free and quick access to satellite data for any country that needs it.

    The Charter coordinates the delivery of several types of satellite data from many different organizations and satellite operators. This ensures that the best and most accurate information needed for the situation is made accessible.

    With new technology and computer algorithms, even small satellites can provide vital help when disaster strikes.

    Small satellites are used for communication, earth observation, navigation, as well as search and rescue. Andøya Space will launch small satellites in 2023.

    Coverage and providers

    Even for optical or radar satellites, data from any place on Earth only takes from a few minutes to a few hours to obtain, depending on the type of satellite, its orbit and general coverage.

    – Several commercial providers offer optical and radar satellite data in high resolution, Harr says. – They can quickly deliver very detailed images of the affected area.

    Examples of such satellites are the commercial satellite constellations Airbus, Maxar, Planet and WorldView.

    – These commercial satellites provide data for corporations and other private organizations, as well as governments and other public actors, Harr says.

    Commercially, earth observation data are utilized for monitoring land use, development, construction, forestry, ice, maritime activities, water levels, and much more.

    Data processing

    The price for a single commercial satellite image that has already been taken varies depending on resolution, but offers can be found at approximately 15 to 20 US dollars per square kilometer.

    – The cost will be higher for images of higher resolution, Harr says. – Or for images at other wavelengths than visible light, larger size, greater coverage and if the satellite needs to be pointed at a specific area which it usually doesn’t cover.

    However, medium resolution images of predefined areas from for example EU’s Copernicus satellites are available free of charge.

    How can small satellites help?

    – Currently, a higher resolution requires a larger optical system and hence a larger satellite, Harr says. – But small satellites tend to use lower orbits, which can provide a high resolution for smaller optical systems.

    Coupled with specialized computer algorithms and data processing, small satellites are able to provide resolutions near those provided by larger satellites.

    – Because small satellites are much faster and less costly to develop and launch, they will become very useful for disaster relief in the near future, Harr says. – This is in addition to all the other applications small satellites are useful for.

    By launching small satellites, Andøya Space will become a significant factor in ensuring that the orbital infrastructure necessary for monitoring the environment and for managing disasters is present.

    Copernicus Emergency Service

    Norway is not a direct member of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters, but has access to the charter via membership in the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT.

    Because Norway is a member of the European Copernicus Program, Norway has access to Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS). This provides all member countries with satellite data during disasters.

    Norway has activated CEMS five times, in 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021, due to flooding or storm.

    More information

    For more information please contact Andøya Spaceport

  • Anne Horsrud new president of Andøya Space Education

    Anne Margrethe Horsrud is the new president of Andøya Space Education. She takes over after Arne Hjalmar Hanssen who has led the subsidiary for more than 20 years.

    From October 1st, Anne Margrethe Horsrud is the new president of Andøya Space Education. Anne comes from the position as principal in junior high school and has over 25 years of experience from various positions in primary, lower secondary, and junior high school, the last 16 years as principal.

    – We are very pleased that Anne is joining the Andøya Space team. She is an experienced leader with a valuable background from the school system, says Ketil Olsen, CEO of Andøya Space.

    Passionate about teaching

    Anne is excited about being a part of Andøya Space. She is passionate about teaching and help create the foundation for good learning experiences.

    – I am looking forward to new challenges at Andøya Space, where I can use my knowledge and experience in a new setting, says the new president. – Andøya Space Education is doing a very important job with space education programs and activities, and I am very excited to work with all the competent staff at Andøya.

    The former president of Andøya Space Education, Arne Hjalmar Hanssen, has led Andøya Space Education for over 20 years and is now stepping down to work in a new position as Senior Advisor for public and political affairs.

    About Andøya Space Education

    Andøya Space Education is a fully owned subsidiary and represents the educational part of Andøya Space. Andøya Space Education provides courses, seminars and activities within space-related subjects for kindergartens, schools and universities, and aims to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers from all over the world.

    More information

    Please contact Andøya Space Education

  • STORT successfully launched

    At June 26th, 04:19 local time, the German sounding rocket “STORT” successfully soared into the sunny summer night above Andenes.

    The acronym STORT stands for “Schlüsseltechnologien für hochenergetische Rückkehrflüge der Trägerstufen”, which translates to “Key technologies for high-energetic return flights of reusable launcher stages”.

    For the design and certification of spacecraft components, numerical and experimental methods for multidisciplinary applications must be developed and validated. Therefore, the comparison of numerical and experimental data with flight data is indispensable. In the STORT project, all three tools mentioned are used for the development and qualification of key technologies for high-energy return flights of reusable launcher stages.

    Photo of STORT lift-off from Oksebåsen
    LIft-off from Oksebåsen, June 26th, 04:19. Photo: Andøya Space

    Numerical, experimental and flight data

    Numerical design methods still have great shortcomings in estimating the integral heat loads and  temperature spikes on key components of a spacecraft. Ground-based experiments can only simulate flight segments with partially inaccurate flight conditions.

    In the high-speed flight sector, aero-thermodynamic processes, such as thermal and chemical interactions between the vehicle surface and high enthalpy flow play an important role in spacecraft design. Since previous flight experiments did not allow such conditions, a flight experiment for a velocity of Mach 8 is performed on a suppressed trajectory.

    The preparation of the flight experiment will be accompanied by dedicated ground-based experiments with modern diagnostics. The experimental data are analyzed with advanced and efficient evaluation algorithms. Both the flight data and the ground experiments are used to improve the numerical methods.

    The main goals of the project

    • System analysis of high-energy flights of reusable stages of launchers
    • Aerothermal and mechanical prediction of highly loaded structures with existing tools
    • Development of reusable structures with high reliability
    • Use of modern diagnostics to characterize the test objects and test environments
    • Qualification tests in ground-based facilities on high-temperature structures and materials
    • Development and testing of ground demonstrators
    • Execution of a flight experiment for flight testing of high-temperature components
    • Development of a three-stage launch vehicle delivering Mach 8 at 50 km max altitude
    • Multidisciplinary post-flight analysis

    Within the scope of STORT, a project within the German Aerospace Center (DLR), several technology and hardware developments culminated in this flight experiment using a newly developed three-stage sounding rocket motor. The vehicle flew on a suppressed trajectory with an apogee of 38 km and velocities exceeding Mach 8 to provide high-enthalpy experimental conditions for hypersonic aero-thermal research.

    The initial data analysis by DLR confirms a successful flight; the detailed analysis of scientific data is already underway. DLR also expresses their gratitude to Andøya Space for the support during the STORT campaign.

    STORT mission patch

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Award for master’s thesis on space debris

    Rannveig Marie Færgestad received the NIFRO award 2022 for her master’s thesis on protective shields against space debris.

    – Space debris is a growing problem, and in the years to come the issue will become even more important, explains Færgestad. This week, she received the prestigous NIFRO award, the Norwegian space industry’s annual award for the best master’s thesis on space technology and space activities.

    – For space stations; shield design and how to protect against space debris have been important knowledge for decades, the prize winner explains. – When it comes to smaller satellites it has so far not been economically beneficial to protect them against small fragments of space debris, but in the future, this is something that will be relevant for more and more satellite owners.

    Shield protection for spacecrafts

    This is where her winning thesis named “Modeling and simulations of shocks at extreme speed against spacecraft shields” comes into play. There are few laboratories offering collision testing at high enough speeds, and numerical simulations provides a far cheaper alternative.

    Using advanced numerical analysis, Færgestad has modeled damage to spacecraft when hit by debris in orbit. Such models may be a key tool in the developement and design of protective shields for spacecraft, and her hands-on thesis received praise by the jury:

    – This year’s winner of the NIFRO award, presents in her thesis a useful approach to modeling collisions, to ensure that both international and Norwegian space crafts can withstand potential collisions and contribute to a sustainable future in low earth orbit, they write in their justification.

    Strong competition

    Despite strong competition and several worthy prize winners, a unanimous jury selected the NTNU student’s thesis among the 13 theses received.

    – This award means a lot, says Færgestad. – I have known about the NIFRO award since my first semester at the university. It har been very motivating throughout my studies to know that the space industry values good assignments.

    Since 2013, the prize has been awarded annually by Andøya Space Education and the Norwegian Industrial Forum for Space Activities (NIFRO). In addition to honor and glory, the price is 20,000 NOK.

    – Andøya Space is largely responsible for me deciding to pursue a career in space, the award winner announces. She is currently writing a PhD within the same topic. – In high school, I got to participate in the European Space Camp at Andøya. It really opened my eyes to all of the possibilities that exists. I am grateful that there are so many initiatives to involve young people in the Norwegian space sector.

    The jury consisted of:

    • Jøran Grande, Andøya Space Education
    • Grunde Joheim, Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace
    • Vendela Paxal, Professor II at NTNU

    The Jury’s full justification (translated from Norwegian):

    Space debris is a growing threat to current and future low-Earth spacecraft. There will be a need to meet this threat in order to ensure future exploration of space. Here, protective shields can be a significant contributor.

    Experimental shocks at extreme speed are expensive and can only be performed in a few laboratories globally. This makes numerical simulations a key tool in developing and designing protective shields.

    The recent year’s increasing focus on sustainability also for space actors, gives a greater joint responsibility to ensure that collisions with space debris do not cause critical damage to spacecraft, and that any collision create as few new fragments as possible.

    This year’s winner of the NIFRO award presents a valuable approach to modelling collisions, to ensure that both Norwegian and international spacecrafts can withstand potential collisions and contribute to a sustainable future in low earth orbit.

    The candidate has worked on a complex task with mathematical modelling, simulation and processing of results. The thesis requires the candidate to be able to translate physical knowledge into models and comparisons of experimental data. The issues are discussed at a very advanced level.

    More information

    Read more about the NIFRO award and the nomination process.

  • Lift-off for Endurance

    The NASA suborbital research rocket Endurance lifted off from the Andøya Space launch site at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, on Wednesday May 11th, 2022.

    Photo of lift-off for Endurance from Ny-Ålesund
    Photo: Brian Bonsteel, NASA

    The primary mission for Endurance was to investigate and measure Earth’s electrical field in order to establish to what extent the ionosphere leaks water into space. It is already known by the science community that the ionospheres on Mars and Venus do this as well.

    Lift-off occurred at 03:31, local time. The principal investigator on Endurance, Glyn Collinson at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Catholic University of America, was very pleased with the initial results. The data returned from the mission will be analyzed further in months and years ahead.

    During its flight the Endurance reached an apogee of 767 kilometers altitude.

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • The GHOST mission

    A suborbital scientific research rocket named GHOST will carry student experiments from nine countries and is set to launch from Andøya Space no earlier than 2024.

    University and college students in Norway, Canada, France, Japan, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, or USA are invited to join the GHOST rocket project with their experiments.

    GHOST is short for Grand Challenge Mesosphere Student Rocket and is a large research rocket for students to be launched from Andøya Space no earlier than 2024. The rocket is a part of the international project Grand Challenge Initiative Project Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere (GCI M/LT) which studies the mesosphere (95 – 120 kilometers from the ground) and the lower part of the thermosphere (about 120 kilometers from the ground).

    – This project will use experiments lifted onboard several sounding rockets, balloons, and aircraft at the same time all over the globe because this way we get more data from the experiments than if they were to be conducted in isolation, says Kolbjørn Blix, Director of sounding rockets and Andøya Space. He’s leading the project together with scientists such as Douglas Rowland at NASA.

    Hands-on experience and useful contacts

    Scientists from NASA, the European space agency ESA, the Japanese space agency JAXA as well as Canada, Poland and UK are participating in GCI M/LT.

    – Our wish is that students from all those countries, including Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, France, and Germany participates on the GHOST mission, says Kolbjørn.

    GHOST will be built in USA by NASA and is scheduled to be launched from Andøya Space during the same launch campaign as another NASA research rocket.

    – This way the students will experience a professional launch campaign close-up. But first they need to design and build the experiments the GHOST rocket will carry, document them, test them, integrate them, and comply with all the deadlines and requirements that are common in a rocket project, says Kolbjørn.

    – The students will connect with each other and the scientists, which will give them not only a useful experience, but also a network they can use to advance their careers in the space business, say Kolbjørn.

    Photo of G-CHASER lift-off from Andøya.
    G-CHASER lifts-off from Andøya.

    Experience from an earlier student rocket

    GHOST is built on the concept of an earlier student rocket named G-CHASER, which carried with it experiments built by a hundred students from Norway, Japan, and USA.

    – G-CHASER was a large two-stage research rocket built by NASA as a part of the Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp, says Kolbjørn.

    The students built and tested their instruments at home, and about half of them joined the final integration and testing at NASA in 2018, and then during the launch campaign at Andøya Space in 2019.

    Logo and song

    The success of G-CHASER and the Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp demonstrated for all that a large student rocket and a large research project was possible and even produced good results.

    – We found the perfect logo for the GHOST mission, says Kolbjørn. – A logo with a rocket resembling a ghost, and the owner, Ghost Rocket Music in USA, have given us their permission to use it. They will even try to create a song to promote the project.

    Grand Challenge

    More information about Grand Challenge can be found on the website www.grandchallenge.no

    Want to join?

    Information about how to join the GHOST mission will be made public later this year.

    GHOST mission patch
    The GHOST mission patch

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Why is there life on Earth but not on Mars?

    Earth’s electrical field is to be measured for the first time. It will be done with a NASA research rocket launched from Andøya Space’s launch site on Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard.

    Why is there life on Earth but not on Mars or Venus? Our neighbors have a lot in common with Earth. Once they looked even more similar than what they do today, and had liquid water on their surfaces and in their atmospheres. So why today is Earth the only one with life?

    One of the culprits may be the electrically charged field in the atmosphere known as the ionosphere. Here, the intense light from the sun converts water in the atmosphere to oxygen and hydrogen, which then dissapears into space. Over time this process removes water from Mars and Venus.

    But Earth also have an ionosphere. This is where the northern lights are created when electrically charged particles from the sun collides with Earths magnetic field and is drawn towards the polar regions.  Why haven’t Earth’s atmosphere made Earth’s water leak into space?

    Photo of work with scientific rocket
    Photo: Nasa

    Is Earth’s water disappearing through the ionosphere?

    This is the main focus for the research rocket Endurance. It will measure the electrical field in the ionosphere, the strength, size and to what extent it converts water and leaks the remains out to space. It is the first time this experiment have been conducted.

    Endurance will launch from Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard sometime between May 9th and May 26th. The launch window goes from 03:00 to 07:00. From Ny-Ålesund the rockets trajectory will be in a southwestern direction, with an expected apogee of about 800 kilometers.

    Photo of work with scientific rocket
    Photo: Nasa

    Weaker than a wristwatch battery

    – One of the reasons Earth have life is probably due to our electrically weak ionosphere, which is only about 0.3 volt and thus weaker than the battery of a typical wristwatch, and 25 times weaker than the ionosphere of Venus, says Glyn Collinson at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Catholic University of America.

    He is in charge of the scientific scope of Endurance in collaboration with NASA, and conducts research on the the electrical fields of Earth, Venus, Mars and other celestial bodies in the solar system.

    – With Endurance we will measure one of the basic properties of Earth, directly connected to why there is life and humans here. The scientific reward of this work can therefore be great, says Collinson.

    Photo of work with payload on scientific rocket
    Photo: Nasa

    Can only be done from Andøya and Svalbard

    – Our launch sites at Andøya and Ny-Ålesund are some of the very few places in the world where it is possible to investigate the ionosphere and its electrical field using research rockets, says Kolbjørn Blix, director of sounding rockets and Andøya Space. – In addition to the launch sites, scientists have access to a well developed science intrastructure and several groundbased instrument sites, in order to monitor the parameters needed to decide when the research rockets should launch.

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Ketil Olsen is the new CEO for Andøya Space

    The board of Andøya Space has, after a thorough process, decided to appoint acting CEO Ketil Olsen to the position on a permanent basis.

    CEO of Andøya Space, Ketil Olsen.
    Ketil Olsen is now the CEO of Andøya Space

    When former CEO Odd Roger Enoksen was appointed Minister of Defense in October 2021, the then Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Andøya Space, Ketil Olsen, stepped into the role of acting CEO at short notice. The vacant position was advertised at the same time, and after a thorough process, the board has now decided to hire Olsen permanently in the position.

    – We are very pleased to announce that Ketil Olsen has agreed to continue at the helm of Andøya Space on a permanent basis, says Rasmus Sunde, chairman of the group. – We have carried out a structured and comprehensive process where several external applicants have also been considered, but concluded that Olsen is the best candidate.

    Sunde highlights both Olsen’s previous management experiences both nationally and internationally as well as the intimate knowledge of Andøya Space as a reason why the choice fell on him.

    – Olsen is an experienced leader and can point to good results both in previous positions and from his time in Andøya Space, Sunde explains. – The position requires solid abilities for communication, cooperation and the ability to keep a cool head under pressure when we are now one of the first in Europe to establish a launch base for small satellites and further develop our other business areas. We are confident that Ketil has the qualities needed to meet the company’s challenges and that he, together with the rest of the organization, will deliver the results the board expects.

    About Andøya Space

    Andøya Space is a Norwegian aerospace company. The company enable scientists to explore the atmosphere using rockets, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles and advanced ground-based instruments. The company also enable aerospace and defence engineers to test out new technologies. Andøya Space educates and inspires the next generation of researchers and engineers, and is now working to establish a European launch base for small satellites in Norway.

    More information

    Contact Andøya Space