On January 13, 2023, Spaceport Esrange – the first satellite launch facility on mainland Europe – will be inaugurated in Sweden. This marks a crucial milestone for the continent’s space industry.
Spaceport Esrange will provide the European Space Agency (ESA) with an independent trip to the stars and expand its current capabilities in French Guiana.
Initially, the spaceport will be used to launch satellites into orbit.
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“Satellites are critical to many functions of daily life in today’s modern world, and the need for them will only increase in the coming years as space travel will play an even more important role,” says Stefan Gardefjord, CEO of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC ), according to a press release.
According to the SSC, around 10,000 new satellites are to be launched into space over the next few years. By 2040, their total number could reach 100,000 – a 1,900% increase compared to the number of satellites in orbit today.
The Esrange Cosmodrome is under construction in November 2021. Photo credit: Copyright SSC
ESA’s Themis programme, Europe’s reusable rocket initiative, is also being tested at Esrange Cosmodrome. The Themis reusable launch vehicle will begin first stage testing to achieve vehicle liftoff and recovery.
Finally, the facility will be used for suborbital test launches of various next-generation rockets.
Thanks to the above, Spaceport Esrange will help strengthen the continent’s resilience in space. According to Gardefjord, it will enable a “secure, competitive and sustainable Europe”.
The launch of Spaceport Esrange will also be of great benefit to startups operating in this sector. Not only will there be plenty of business opportunities, there will also be a question of talent. Owning a launch facility requires skilled operators, many of whom move to different companies, spreading their expertise across the continent and helping to accelerate and grow the European space sector.
Spaceport Esrange is currently trying to attract satellite owners and orbital rocket manufacturers to potential partnerships. The first satellite launch is expected in late 2023.