Sweden strives to strengthen its ability to launch satellites into space. Spaceport Esrange, outside the city of Kiruna in the far north of the country, will start operations in the summer of 2022. Esrange began as a launch site and research center in the 1960s.
Since 1966, the facility has launched about 600 rockets and balloons, mostly for research purposes. Its location, 200 kilometers above the Arctic region and surrounded by vast wilderness, is seen as particularly advantageous for research and launch of satellites. The European Union (EU) currently lacks the ability to launch satellites from European soil, which Sweden hopes to overcome by modernizing a rocket area built in the 1960s.
12-year loan to make reusable rockets a reality
European Spaceport is located in French Guiana, a French overseas department, in the northeastern part of South America. Surprisingly, the investment in expanding satellite capacity in Europe does not come from the EU, but rather from a financing agreement between the state space operation SSC and Nordic Investment Bank for SEK 120 million ($ 13.6 million). The 12-year loan will be used to finance investments required to make reusable rockets a reality.
“With this money, we will be able to launch satellites into space. With the current message, we will have a basic capability in place. Then there will be more room for development,” New Esrange project manager Philip Phlsson told Swedish Radio.
The government made the first investment in the test operations in 2018 and allocated SEK 60 million ($ 6.8 million). While SSC announced on Twitter: “We are approaching now. A new loan agreement with @nib will finance the last parts of the planned space port function in Esrange.”
We are approaching now. A new loan agreement with @tip will fund the final parts of the planned space port function at Esrange. Of great importance for the sustainable development of life on earth. Expected first satellite launch in 2022 🛰️
– SSC – Swedish Space Corporation (@SSCspace) October 6, 2021
“Europe has lagged behind in space technology for the first 50 years. Both the EU and the European Space Agency (ESA) are investing heavily now, and Sweden can participate in the global space scene with our state-of-the-art space base Esrange,” said SSC’s strategy director Stefan Gustafsson, Sputnik reported.
Sweden will join an exclusive group of about a dozen countries around the world that have their own satellite functions as a result. Satellite launches can be used for a variety of purposes, including gathering information about the planet, atmosphere and oceans, monitoring the environment and weather, and deforestation and forest fires.