Minister for Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson has said that “Esrange has enormous expertise and 50 years’ experience working with sounding rockets and research balloons – naturally we must be involved in these rapid technological developments and try to attract high-tech activities to Sweden from both commercial and institutional actors around the world,”
It is not currently possible to test and develop reusable rockets in Europe. The market for launching small satellites is expanding, and demand for developed rocket technology is increasing.
This is why the Government and the SSC are now investing in a testbed for the development of in-demand technologies: reusable launch technology for small and large rockets, more environmentally friendly engines, test flights and satellite technology. It will also be possible to use the facility to demonstrate new components for space applications, for example.
“The launch of small satellites is a growing market with good prospects of creating new jobs and businesses. The Government is now investing SEK 60 million in the production of new technologies to allow rockets to be reused and launched several times,” says Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg.
The investment is in line with the Government’s space strategy presented earlier this year, and will consist of SEK 60 million from central government and SEK 20 million from the SSC. The project will begin immediately, with a view to starting operational testing in the summer of 2019.
Sweden is prominent in space research and this, coupled with Esrange’s geographical location in Kiruna, means that the facility can compete in the growing global market. A number of major projects on specific space technology areas in which Esrange’s capacity could prove unique and significant are currently ongoing in Europe.
Ms Hellmark Knutsson said that “Space activities are necessary for public services that use satellite data: weather forecasting, communication and navigation. They also contribute to knowledge and measures on the environment, climate change, forestry and agriculture, navigation, the state of the seas, and natural disasters. By investing in space, we can better understand the Earth.”
Government financing is regulated by the EU’s state aid rules. The project is therefore dependent on state aid approval from the European Commission.