On Friday, 15 January, the European Space Agency (ESA) presented a very special Norwegian flag to the Norwegian Mining Museum at Kongsberg, which also houses the Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk Museum. This particular Norwegian flag is carved out of an Ariane 5 booster rocket, and it has been 80 kilometres up in outer space.
ESA Director of Space Launch Vehicles Jean-Jacques Dordain (r.) and President Tom Gerhardsen of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace during the presentation of a Norwegian flag from an Ariane 5 missile to the Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk Museum.
"We are proud of the part Kongsberg Gruppen plays in the European Space Agency's Ariane programme. We hope to co-operate with ESA in other areas as well", stated President Tom Gerhardsen of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, in response to ESA Director of Space Vehicles Jean-Jacques Dordain's official presentation of the rocket component bearing the Norwegian flag.
In addition to Gerhardsen, four other KDA managers were present, each of whom in different ways has played a key role in the company's Ariane activities since the very beginning in 1985: Ole Fiskum, Sven Arild Barstad, Jon Kvistedal and Olav Berdal.
Representing ESA as the donor, Director Jean-Jacques Dordain of France was also very proud to award the gift. "Given Kongsberg's long industrial traditions, this flag represents a link between the past and the future. It is intended to symbolise man's efforts to bring space closer to us here on Earth", explained Dordain.
ESA Director Jean-Jacques Dordain (middle) during the presentation of the Norwegian flag from an Ariane 5 rocket to the Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk Museum. Among those attending the reception were (l. to r.): Rolf Skår, Norwegian Space Centre, Tom Gerhardsen, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, Liv Håskold Haugen, Norwegian Mining Museum and Morten Eriksrød, Mayor of the city of Kongsberg.
Director Dordain thanked everyone for their sterling efforts, underlining the widespread international participation in the Ariane programme and the flag's long voyage prior to it ending up in Kongsberg.
"The booster rockets are built in Germany, filled with fuel in Italy, then transported to Kourou before boosting the Ariane rocket to a height of roughly 60 kilometres (the boosters continue another 20 kilometres further into outer space), then landing in the ocean. This flag is from Ariane 5, flight number 3", he pointed out.
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace supplies attachment and separation mechanisms that ensure the booster rockets separate from the main rocket at exactly the right time, before the main rocket continues its journey into outer space to deploy satellites.