European Spaceport Operations Analysis

DUBLIN, Dec. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The "European Spaceport Review - 2019" report has been added to's offering.

Although at present the term "spaceport" may sound unusual to the common ear, in a few years it may become as ordinary a term as an airport. Whilst the linguistic definition of a spaceport means a door to space, from an economic perspective it is a means of development.

A recent increase in space transportation in the United States is mainly due to private businesses entering the fray. According to the FAA, at present 9 private US companies operate holding 26 active commercial licenses granted by the US Office of Commercial Space Transportation, their commercial space transportation activities are supported by 11 commercial domestic launch sites (aka spaceports) and one foreign site.

Following the lead set principally by the US, other countries are starting to commercialise their space programmes, in the hope of reducing associated costs and acquiring a larger share of the rapidly expanding space market.

The major European space transportation activities are carried by Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launchers from the launch site located in Kourou, French Guiana, on the Atlantic coast of South America, i.e. far away from Europe. On one hand, this launch site's remoteness is advantageous for flight safety and its near equatorial location achieves payload gains from the Earth's rotation. On the other hand, this site is too distant, and thus incapable of providing rapid and affordable access to space for many commercial customers willing to launch small payloads (below 100kg) or take a tour into space. A spaceport located within the EU or closer to Europe than the Guiana Space Centre, serving small orbital launchers below 1000 kg payload capacity to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and/or suborbital human flights, would be a favourable alternative for these customers. Such a spaceport, if it existed, is expected to serve a growing number of commercial customers, bring money to the local economy and increase local employment. These, and the potential strategic advantage from independent access to space, are reasons why several European countries have been investigating the development of commercial spaceports.

A prospective European spaceport is intended to serve small orbital launchers below 1000kg payload capacity to LEO, The European Space Agency (ESA) often refers these small launchers as "micro-launchers", as well as manned and unmanned suborbital launchers serving public and government customers on a commercial basis. Applied in this way, the spaceport is viewed as being an amendment to the Guiana Space Centre, rather than an interfering competitor.

The publisher understands that there are a number of nations across Europe with similar plans for opening commercial spaceports. These include: Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Italy and Spain. In order to successfully operate in this rapidly evolving space market, these players need to understand the comparative advantages and disadvantages for each spaceport option, within the context of the expected European market for space launch.

Sites across the whole of Europe (excluding those in the UK) proposed for vertical and horizontal launch to orbit and suborbital spaceflight are reviewed and assessed in this document. The document is a review of freely available open-source information on the subject. Pacific Spaceport in Alaska and Mahia spaceport in New Zealand are used as the reference models for vertical launch spaceports for comparison against European sites, and the Mojave Air and Space port is used as a reference model for comparison of horizontal launch spaceports.


    --  A Spaceport Overview in Section 1 gives background terms and definitions
        useful for understanding of the other sections; in particular, it gives
        the main features of spaceports, classifications and generic factors.
    --  In Section 2 Pacific Spaceport Complex, the Mahia launch site and Mojave
        Air and Space Port serve as global controls for comparison against the
        European spaceports described in Section 3.
    --  Spaceport options in Europe: Dutch, Italian, Norwegian, Polish,
        Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Swiss, are presented in Section 3. The
        spaceport options described in Sections 2 and 3 include summary tables
        at the end to highlight key spaceport features.
    --  Spaceport options listed in Section 3 are compared using tabular forms
        in Section 4.
    --  The Conclusions in Section 5 summarise the results of the earlier
        comparison, whilst giving CSTs overarching opinion on the development
        position of each European spaceport relative to one another and their
        prospects for the future. Further recommendations are also included at
        the end of the Conclusions.
    --  Comprising references are split in two parts: CST and non-CST
        References. The Non-CST References also include a certainty rating to
        convey the reliability of the information sources used.
    --  The appendix contains supporting information about: European relevant
        Small Launch Vehicles: active and in development stages; A description
        of European Spaceport Weather at the spaceport locations; a European
        Spaceport Weather Comparison table and a European Spaceport Traffic
        Light Comparison table which applies Bayesian statistics to perform a
        side-by-side comparison of all the spaceports discussed in this review
        across 63 separate points.
    --  Appendix D applies Bayesian Statistics and proprietary formulas to
        provide Traffic Light analysis

Companies Mentioned

    --  ABL Space Systems
    --  AVIO
    --  Andoya Space Centre
    --  Astra
    --  DLR
    --  Deimos Elecnor
    --  European Space Agency
    --  NAMMO
    --  NASA
    --  Orbex
    --  PLD Space
    --  RUAG
    --  Rocket Lab
    --  Skyrora
    --  TEKEVER Space
    --  TNO
    --  Thales Alenia Space
    --  Virgin Orbit

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