20 July 2019
Today, the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing- an achievement that was the result of a space race between the US and the Soviet Union, leading to the development of a global space industry. Today, there is a new kind of space race emerging, a race where Sweden has the opportunity to take a leading role by expanding Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden and to become the leading Space center in Europe.
The costs for space technology are dramatically decreasing, making space more accessible for new players. Both nations and private enterprises are now investing in space exploration. A global infrastructure for communication and observation of our planet are other areas which are evolving. The ability to launch small satellites is therefore a particularly important area where the market is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.
This development offers a great opportunity for Sweden to become a global player in space, by developing SmallSats launching capability at Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden, operated and owned by the Swedish Space Corporation, SSC. Esrange was built as a result of the space race in the 60’s. Since 1966 more than 560 sounding rockets have been launched from the base, mainly for research purposes.
Today, Europe lacks capability to launch small satellites from European ground. Esrange offers optimal infrastructure for this purpose. The space center is currently being upgraded for tests of reusable rockets, one of the key trends and driving forces globally within space development.
The existing infrastructure together with SSC’s long experience and extensive know-how provides Sweden with a unique opportunity to make Esrange Europe’s leading space center.
“We can start launching small satellites from Esrange already in 2021, provided that necessary decisions are made. Sweden could then provide the market with important capacity, but also become a nation attracting competence from other countries,” says Stefan Gustafsson, SVP Strategy and Sustainable Business at SSC.
Investing in satellite launching also contributes to the global sustainability goals. Satellite data on the Earth, the atmosphere and the oceans is an invaluable tool for monitoring the environment and the climate. Forest fires, glacier melting, carbon dioxide emissions, ozone holes and desert propagation are some examples where data from satellites play a crucial role in understanding our environment and our planet.
”There is a shortage of launch sites today and Sweden has the opportunity to make a difference by increasing the global launching capacity”, says Stefan Gustafsson.
A decision to invest 60 million SEK in a TestBed for reusable rockets was made by the Swedish government in 2018, and the testing facility is now being established at Esrange.
“During the first 50 years of space technology, Europe has been left behind in Space development. Now, both the EU and the European Space Agency (ESA) are investing heavily, and Sweden has the possibility to step out on the global space scene thanks to our state-of-the-art space base Esrange”, says Stefan Gustafsson.
Press release in Swedish: https://cisn.co/2JDWwBs