Sweden inaugurates mainland Europe's first satellite launch complex
Spaceport Esrange, mainland Europe's first orbital launch complex, was inaugurated on Friday at the Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who jointly cut the ribbon.
"Europe has its foothold in space and will keep it," von der Leyen said. She was in the country to mark the beginning of Sweden's six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).
For Europe, the new orbital launch facility at Esrange is a long-awaited critical asset. Today, only ten-odd countries in the world are capable of launching satellites. Spaceport Esrange will offer an independent European gateway to space, supplementing and strengthening the current European capabilities in French Guiana, the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) said in a press release.
"This new launch complex will contribute to creating a foundation for a resilient Europe in space. New satellite constellations in orbit, responsive launch capabilities and the development of reusable rocketry will enable a secure, competitive and sustainable Europe," Stefan Gardefjord, chief executive officer (CEO) of SSC, said.
According to the SSC, the first satellite launch is expected in late 2023.