Sweden’s national space centre may have a future as Europe’s first satellite launch station.
More than a thousand research rockets and stratospheric balloons have been launched from the Esrange Space Centre outside Kiruna since it opened in 1966. It’s also a control centre for the Galileo Positioning System, the European Union’s version of GPS.
Because of its location 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, the centre can stay in contact with European satellites around the clock. But almost 50 years after it opened the centre needs some refurbishment, says Anders Jörle of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC).
“We’re looking at the opportunities to modernize and upgrade Esrange. Then we need to gauge the demand for satellite launches, he told SR Radio Norrbotten.
“If there is then the Space Corporation can raise funds, as can the National Space Board – and we work with many international companies and organizations that can contribute,” he said.
Another company Spaceport Sweden has plans for space tourism shuttle launches in the future from the Northern Swedish space centre.
Hopwever those plans are taking longer than expected – largely due to set backs in developing space vehicles.
So communications satellites may be blasting off into space from the Swedish Arctic long before space tourists – possibly even by the end of the decade says Anders Jörle at SSC.