Norway has opened its new spaceport on Andøya which is an island located in the northern portion of the country. This spaceport is the first orbital spaceport in Europe. Europe has launched numerous sounding rockets in the past from their own soil, now this orbital spaceport will bring Europe into the orbital market.
Isar Aerospace from Munich, Germany has the rights to the first launch site but other launch pads will be built in the future. Isar is developing the Spectrum rocket, which is a lightweight launch vehicle with the ability to launch up to 1,000 kg to LEO. Launch is planned for 2025. Isar, however, is not the only company gearing up for a launch.
Another Bavarian company, Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) is also in the process of readying their ONE launch vehicle. This rocket will also launch from Europe with RFA’s comment to Forecast International, “RFA continues working towards a 2024 first launch for the RFA ONE and the installation and commissioning of the launch site infrastructure at SaxaVord Spaceport.”
The capability to launch from Europe has been a long-desired goal for the European Space industry. Europe is no stranger to launches. Ariane and Vega launch vehicles have been launching from Kourou, French Guiana since that spaceport opened in 1968. The ability to launch from the European mainland will be a game-changer now that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has effectively closed Soyuz for European use.
Bringing launch to Europe will be lucrative, at least in the near term, for lightweight payloads. Cooperation between countries will be necessary in order to fulfill this European launch dream. With Ariane 6 delayed and Vega C being reworked, Europe is now without a launch vehicle. Isar Aerospace and RFA are entering a market that needs their capabilities.