On January 13, 2023, Spaceport Esrange — the first satellite launch facility on the European mainland — will opened in Sweden. This marks a critical milestone for the continent’s aerospace industry.
Spaceport Esrange will provide the European Space Agency (ESA) with an independent haven to the stars and 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 everyday life in today’s modern world, and the need for them will only increase in the coming years as space takes on an even more important role,” said Stefan Gardefjord, CEO of the Swedish Space Corporation. (SSC). ), said in one press release.
According to SSC data, about 10,000 new satellites are expected to be launched in the coming years. By 2040, their total number could reach 100,000 – a 1,900% increase over the operational satellites orbiting the Earth today.
Spaceport Esrange will also host testing of the ESAs Themis programme, the European initiative for reusable rockets. Themis’ reusable space launcher will begin the first phase of testing, which will attempt to launch and recover the vehicle.
Finally, the facility will be used for suborbital test launches of several next-gen rockets.
Thanks to the above, Spaceport Esrange will help establish 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 hugely positive for startups working in this sector. Not only will there be ample business opportunities, there is also the issue of talent. To have a launch facility requires skilled operators, many of whom will move to different companies, spreading their expertise across the continent and helping to accelerate and grow the European space sector.
Currently, Spaceport Esrange is trying to attract satellite owners and orbital rocket manufacturers to possible partnerships. The first satellite launch is expected at the end of 2023.