Launching the first satellites from Norwegian soil


Andøya Spaceport was officially opened on Thursday 2nd of November 2023. The first rocket to be launched from Andøya Spaceport is from Isar Aerospace and carries several small satellites developed by students at several European universities, including NTNU in Norway.

But who will be leading the launch from the control room at Andøya Spaceport? And what are their tasks?

Director of Launch Operations

The launch team is headed by the Director of Launch Operations Fredrik Pedersen.

– My job is to lead the operational team that carries out the customer’s launch with us. During the launch itself our main tasks are to ensure safety and capture the data from the rocket, says Pedersen. – This includes making certain that all the checkpoints leading up to the countdown have been met, that the launch area has been cleared of traffic, and to carry out the final countdown.

– On launch day there will be approximately 12 people in the control room, but the entire launch team at Andøya Spaceport includes more than 30 people. In addition, there are the customer’s personnel, who help prepare and carry out the launch.

However, the main part of the Director of Launch Operations’ job begins several months prior. – The Director of Launch Operations’ task is to ensure that all the resources needed to carry out the launch are in place, that all the systems to be used are up and running, and that everything is working as it should, says Pedersen.

His professional background comes from the aviation industry. At Andøya Space, Pedersen has worked with the defense segment, and has been Director of Launch Operations for several launches at Andøya Space Defence.

Groundbreaking work in Norway

– Since this is the first launch of a small satellite, not only at Andøya Spaceport, but at any launch base in Norway, many of the preparations leading up to this first launch are groundbreaking work, says Eskild Kristiansen. He is the second Director of Launch Operations at Andøya Spaceport.

The team has worked with setting up the control room and the equipment to be used at the first launch, in parallel with training of personnel and the various roles and positions of the team.

Kristiansen’s background from the Norwegian Air Force, where he has worked both as a fighter pilot and with training new fighter pilots, comes in handy as Director of Launch Operations.

– The Air Force has a lot to contribute within this build-up phase at Andøya Spaceport, where we do a lot of transfer of operational management and control, and use our experience in developing a solid launch team, says Kristiansen.

He has additional personnel from the Air Force with him on the launch team. Andøya Spaceport has an intentional agreement of cooperation with the Royal Norwegian Air Force to provide support for operational launch capacity, also in times of crisis.

Launch experience with large rockets

As part of the preparations and development towards the very first launch of small satellites from Norwegian and European soil, Andøya Spaceport has worked closely with the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority, which is the supervisory authority for launch activities in Norway.

– The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority requires that we document our procedures, plans and routines for how we will carry out the launches in a safe and secure manner, says Jon Harr.

He is Operations Director at Andøya Spaceport and is responsible for the entire department, with the launch team and the additional groups preparing the operational activity of the first launch at Andøya Spaceport. This includes the overall responsibility for safety.

– We are also preparing to carry out firing tests of the rocket from Isar Aerospace, which will take place prior to the launch and are part of the preparations, says Harr.

In order to be ready, the team will first carry out a large number of training sessions, both internally and together with the customer and their personnel.

– As Operations Director I now have a more executive role, but if needed I can step into the control room both before and during the launch, says Harr.
He has worked as Director of Launch Operations for several launches at the European Spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana. This is where the space probes and satellites of the European space organization ESA are launched, with large rockers such as Ariane 5, Ariane 6, Vega and previously Soyuz.

More information?

Please contact Andøya Spaceport.