Sweden, “Europe’s New Gateway to Space”

Sweden, “Europe’s New Gateway to Space”

In 2020, Sweden pledged to invest 90 million kronor (9.5 million euros) over the next three years to modernize the Esrange space center to accommodate small satellite launches. The first orbital rockets will take off this year. The installation will also allow the European Space Agency (ESA) to carry out launches from the continent.

Esrange is the launch base for balloons and sounding rockets built by the European Space Research Council and commissioned in the 1960s. You’ll find it in the municipality of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, about 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle.

was the basis I imagined during the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958) during which several countries made joint efforts in many disciplines of earth sciences. This period was also behind the launch of satellites such as Sputnik (USSR) and Explorer 1 (USA). At the same time, the goal was to move away from the use of sounding missiles for military purposes.

Sweden, which was also at the origin of the Kiruna Geophysical Observatory, focused on studies of the Earth’s atmosphere, and then used this spaceport as a bargaining chip to join a group that preceded the European Space Agencyknown as the European Organization for Space Research, of which membership was It was ratified in 1964. Then the first sounding rockets began to be fired two years later, in 1966.

Launch of the VSB-30 sounding missile. Credits: DLR, CC-BY 3.0

Finally, orbital launches

However, after nearly sixty years of operations, other missions are on the horizon with new facilities allowing for Launch rockets to launch satellites. The first orbital launches will take place from the spaceport this year.

The Esrange port is a key asset that will enhance Europe’s launch capacity, improve our competitiveness and continue to ensure Europeans have access to space.” , to me announce Josef Achbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency. Recall that At the moment, European missiles are mainly launched from French Guiana.

This new facility will join a host of European commercial space activities competing for space access across the continent. Companies such as Skyrora, Orbex, Astra and Isar Aerospace are already targeting launches coming from northern Scotland, Wales, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Spain and the Shetland Islands. lately, Virgin Orbit failed Try over from British soil but it’s just a delay.

Note that orbital launches will only be part of the space activity planned in the region this year. The European Space Agency plans toHosting reusable missile tests under the THEMIS programmeLed by ArianeGroup, suborbital launches will always be an important part of Esrange’s legacy.

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