The Norwegian Space Industry

The Norwegian space industry today consists of around 40 large and small companies spread throughout the country. They develop and produce everything from terminals for satellite communications to flower pots for plant research in space, and sell services from Antarctica in the south to Svalbard in the north.

The turnover is approximately eight billion kroner annually.

After flying under the radar for decades, Norway’s space industry is rocketing into the limelight. In 2022, Norway will open the first launch base for satellites on the European continent.

The spaceport is a part of Norway’s foray into New Space, the emerging commercial space industry. Andøya Space, a Norwegian aerospace company, is establishing a launch site for small satellites at Andøya in Northern Norway. This will make Norway one of the few countries worldwide to have a spaceport on their own territory.

Moreover, Andøya’s remote location on the coast, 300 km within the Arctic Circle, is a perfect starting point to reach the polar and sun-synchronous orbits used by small satellites. In these orbits, satellites can serve a variety of commercial and scientific purposes, from earth observation to marine surveillance and telecommunications.

Telecommunications is the largest field in the Norwegian space industry with companies conducting experiments with communication and broadcasting via satellite to Svalbard and the North Sea as early as the 1970s.

One of the other large space companies in Norway is Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace, KDA. Through the subsidiaries Kongsberg Satellite Services and Kongsberg Spacetec, the company is among the foremost in services related to ground stations and satellite data. Today, Kongsberg Satellite Services operates a worldwide network of ground stations for satellites, including on Svalbard and in Antarctica. The company also supplies high technology to NASA and ESA, among others.

A high-cost country like Norway cannot compete with low-cost countries like China and India in the production of components, but when it comes to high technology and specialist expertise, engineers in Norway are no more expensive than engineers elsewhere in the world. It is in such fields that Norway can compete in the space industry. Several Norwegian companies have further developed technology or services that were originally intended for use offshore for space technology. The interaction between the offshore industry and the space industry can also go the other way.

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Simon Flack

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