Nano-satellites launched from Norwegian soil in 2020?
Published: 5 March 2013
Andøya Rocket Range (ARR), Nammo Raufoss and Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) have started a study into the feasibility of launching mini-satellites from Oksenbåsen on Andøya in Northern Norway.

The goal is to determine if it is technically feasible, safe and economical to offer such services in the future. The plan is to shoot pico- and nano-satellites (0.1 – 10 kg) into a polar orbit straight from Andøya from 2020. Andøya is ideally placed for a launch into lower polar orbit. This kind of dedicated launch services does not exist today.

The plan is to use a new family of rocket motors, North Star, which will primarily be used for launching sounding rockets from Andøya for scientific research. If successful, the largest version of these sounding rockets can be fitted with a third stage dedicated to put a small payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The launcher version of the North Star family is called the North Star Launch Vehicle (NSLV).

Nammo Raufoss contributes with a new family of rocket engines based on Hybrid Rocket Propulsion. These engines are environmentally friendly rocket motors with unique capabilities. They will make it possible to control the rockets in a way which is impossible with traditional solid propellant rockets. The last 2 years Nammo Raufoss has made significant progress with their hybrid rocket motor technology. During 2013, Nammo will start testing the first full scale engines to be used as the future second stage motors for the launcher needed to launch satellites from Andøya.

Andøya Rocket Range is already involved in the Norwegian student satellite project ANSAT. In this project three small satellites, so called CubeSat's, will be built by three universities: HiNCUBE by the University College of Narvik, CubeSTAR by the University of Oslo and NUTS by NTNU in Trondheim. These three satellites will all have to 'hitchhike' with a larger rocket with spare capacity. Such a ride does provide a reasonably priced launch opportunity, but seldom or never provides the desired orbit. It is also uncertain when the launch will happen, as the main payload will determine the launch date. In this way, many small satellite projects never accomplish what they were built for. The North Star Launch Vehicle will be ready for launch on short notice and can take 3-4 of these CubeSat's into their desired orbit.