Locations
Contacts

Endre Lunde

Senior Vice President, Communications

MAIL P.O. Box 142, NO-2831 Raufoss, Norway
VISIT Enggata 37, 2830 Raufoss, Norway
EMAIL endre.lunde@nammo.com
TEL +4790853270

Norway

Nammo AS

MAIL P.O. Box 142, NO-2831 Raufoss, Norway
VISIT Enggata 37, NO-2830 Raufoss, Norway
EMAIL info@nammo.com
TEL +47 61 15 36 00

Quick facts:

  • The Nucleus sounding rocket was launched on September 27, 2018 from Andøya Space Center in Northern Norway.
  • Nucleus is the first sounding rocket built and designed in Norway with a Norwegian rocket motor and payload.
  • Nammo has made and assembled the rocket at its Raufoss headquarters. But the project is also a cooperation with ESA, the Norwegian Space Center (Norsk Romsenter) and Andøya Space Center.
  • The hybrid motor on the Nucleus is very different from traditional solid-fueled rockets. Whereas the latter burn until the fuel is used up, a hybrid rocket motor can be throttled, switched on or off, effectively controlling thrust and allowing for completely different flight patterns (like horizontal flight).
  • The Nucleus has a thrust of about 30KN (3 tons).
  • The rocket is about 9m long, and weighs 800kg.
  • A larger, satellite-carrying-version can be scaled up to about 75-100KN.
Contacts

Endre Lunde

Senior Vice President, Communications

MAIL P.O. Box 142, NO-2831 Raufoss, Norway
VISIT Enggata 37, 2830 Raufoss, Norway
EMAIL endre.lunde@nammo.com
TEL +4790853270

Adrien Boiron

Director Engineering Space, Nammo

EMAIL adrien.boiron@nammo.com
TEL +47 948 64 906

Watch our 3-part documentary series about the Nucleus:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Nucleus: A Very Different Way to Launch into Space

– It is so difficult to get everything right: The technology and the power to fight Earth’s gravity for just long enough… A rocket is such a complex system. But the feeling when we did it? It was fantastic. An explosion of joy.

Quick facts:

  • The Nucleus sounding rocket was launched on September 27, 2018 from Andøya Space Center in Northern Norway.
  • Nucleus is the first sounding rocket built and designed in Norway with a Norwegian rocket motor and payload.
  • Nammo has made and assembled the rocket at its Raufoss headquarters. But the project is also a cooperation with ESA, the Norwegian Space Center (Norsk Romsenter) and Andøya Space Center.
  • The hybrid motor on the Nucleus is very different from traditional solid-fueled rockets. Whereas the latter burn until the fuel is used up, a hybrid rocket motor can be throttled, switched on or off, effectively controlling thrust and allowing for completely different flight patterns (like horizontal flight).
  • The Nucleus has a thrust of about 30KN (3 tons).
  • The rocket is about 9m long, and weighs 800kg.
  • A larger, satellite-carrying-version can be scaled up to about 75-100KN.
Contacts

Endre Lunde

Senior Vice President, Communications

MAIL P.O. Box 142, NO-2831 Raufoss, Norway
VISIT Enggata 37, 2830 Raufoss, Norway
EMAIL endre.lunde@nammo.com
TEL +4790853270

Adrien Boiron

Director Engineering Space, Nammo

EMAIL adrien.boiron@nammo.com
TEL +47 948 64 906

Watch our 3-part documentary series about the Nucleus:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thorstein Korsvold, 10 October, 2018

Lead engineer Adrien Boiron inspecting a part of the Nucleus rocket during the assembly stage. Photo: Nammo

On 27 september 2018, with a thundering sound, the Nucleus rocket took off from its launch rail at Andøya Space Center. Just over a minute later, it had reached an altitude of 107km. On the ground, the crew in the control room realized they had done it. After ten years of hard work, the cheering was almost as loud as the launch itself.

A few months later, lead engineer Adrien Boiron still feels proud. He’s told the tale about the Nucleus a lot of times by now. But it still brings a big smile to his face.

– I think we really did something amazing. What we accomplished was incredible. The rocket behaved beautifully in flight, and flew well over the 100km altitude goal that we had set. And with the reception we’ve gotten from media, people in the industry, and so on – it’s been amazing, Boiron says.

The launch – conducted in the north of Norway – turned a lot of heads in the space sector. Nammo sent the first Norwegian-made rocket into space. In itself, that was a remarkable achievement. Financing, designing, building, and successfully launching such rockets is a capability traditionally only held by a handful of major countries, or organisations like NASA.

Things are changing, however. Nammo’s Nucleus effort can be seen as heralding something never seen before in the sector: The rise of small – but capable – players.

– You can say that we weren’t really supposed to do what we did, with such limited resources. Also, our choice of a hybrid rocket motor was unusual. We did it anyway, Boiron points out.

The Nucleus rocket motor was thorougly tested before launch. Here from one of the last tests, in June 2018. Photo: Nammo

They were only a handful of people: a few engineers and scientists, two or three mechanical experts and a coordinator or two. Even though as many as a hundred people played some part, the core team were maybe only ten to twenty people. They cooperated with and got important support from ESA over several years. Still, achieving launch with such limited resources was a phenomenal success.

The Nucleus rocket motor was thorougly tested before launch. Here from one of the last tests, in June 2018. Photo: Nammo

Nucleus is also part of an overall technological change: Satellites today can be far smaller and lighter than only a decade or two ago. That paves the way for smaller, lighter and less costly rocket concepts. And after the launch last September, Nammo has proven that it has something to offer to help make that a reality.

The Nucleus team assembled in front of the rocket, on the day before launch. Photo: Nammo

– With what we’ve accomplished, we have become one of the leaders, worldwide, in the field of microlauncher propulsion systems. We have demonstrated a suborbital launch, and are the first in Europe to do that.

Nammo already has decades of experience with military rocket propulsion. The company makes rocket motors for a range of missiles like the AMRAAM, ESSM and IRIS-T. Now, the goal is to strengthen the civilian product line. Providing the right launch infrastructure and a working rocket concept can be established. Adrien Boiron is clear on what should be next: More launches and bigger rockets.

We have some hard work ahead: Build bigger rockets, and keep launching. I believe our next launch may actually have a first cube satellite on board. That’s an exciting prospect.

– Do you think that’s realistic?

– Yes, it’s realistic now, more than ever. We demonstrated the technology, we have the key building blocks, we know the hybrid rocket technology works, and the launch infrastructure is coming together at Andøya. Also, in Europe, we know there is the right pool of engineers and companies to make this happen and provide a new and competitive commercial launch service dedicated to small satellites.

An artist’s impression of the Nucleus rocket in space. Illustration: Nammo

About the author

Thorstein Korsvold